Thursday, September 7, 2017

Challenge: Grandparents Day in USA and Canada

GENEALOGY: BEYOND THE BMD has challenged people who blog about their family genealogy to make their blog this week be about their grandparents.

Grandparents day is this weekend on September 10th in the USA and Canada.

Then there was one more step to it - tell us one story from them they told you.

This is where it will get dicey for me to fulfill this challenge. Why?

  1. I can never remember meeting my paternal and maternal grandfathers at all. Long story, but they were not good men, or so I've been told, so they kept us away from them. 
  2. My paternal grandmother, the one I was closest and the only one to fully know, would only say a sentence here and there about her growing up years to me. However, there are no stories. Only sentences. 
  3. My maternal grandmother, and the one I carry her middle name, I only seen a handful of times in my life. Those times she was drugged up by the nursing home staff due to her mental state. 

So, as you can see, I had a very happy home life growing up and this will be a challenge for me to fulfill.

My family tree leading back to my grandparents are:
My Family Tree made by myself for Grandparents Day on Sept 10th
Sadly, all of my grandparents are gone now. In fact, I didn't even have pictures for three of them until about 2-3 years ago, when I started researching and talking to cousins.

Maternal Grandparents
These are on my mother's side. As you can see, from the tree above, these are Janet and Louis we're talking about.
Janet Gauquie
Janet - I met her only a few times before and she was in a nursing home. She had many health complaints along with other factors which kept her in homes since around the time my parents married until her death.

One of the best memories I have is when my mother signed her out of the nursing home and brought her to our house for Thanksgiving one year. I was about 8, 9 or 10 years old. The word got out and my brother and all of sisters and their families came along and we joined every table we had and brought as many chairs as we could and sat around the entire table. Talk about a full room. I was able to sit next to my grandmother as the meal progressed.

The sad part is my grandmother sat there looking around at everyone, but didn't eat, drink or say anything. I kept asking if she wanted a drink, some food but she just looked at me. She was on that much medication from the nursing home she probably didn't even know her own name. However, she was there and we all made it known how much we loved her.
Louis Gauquie
Louis - I never met him at all to my knowledge. In fact, my mother would only tell me about stuff he did and said how he treated Janet.

As you can see, on my mother's side, there wasn't much on an influence at all by these people unless you look at how the affected my mother, which was substantial from what I can now see and understand.

Paternal Grandparents
These are on my father's side. As you can see, from the tree above, these are Mathew/Matthew and Jean we're talking about.
Mathew Schmitz taken from his Naturalization paperwork
Mathew/Matthew - I never met, either, as to my knowledge. My father wouldn't bring him up at all. My grandmother would only call him names and get a sour face when he was mentioned.
Jean Schmitz
One of the pictures of me and my grandmother.
Jean - Jean is the only major influence of my life. She's the one that drove my mother to West Point when I was born. She used to have me stay with her two weeks of my summer vacation when I was in school. She was always trying to dress me up in dresses, which I didn't like and it used to annoy her because she wanted a granddaughter that loved to shop and wear frilly things. *shutter*

Growing up I would hear kids in school talk about their grandparents and stories about their families growing up. We never talked about the past in my family - at all. However, when I was staying with my grandmother, Jean, she would sometimes say things in sentences.

  • I loved playing in the Bug and another River with my cousins growing up. We had such great times!
  • That was my father's brother. He's gone now. They are all gone now. Assassinated and murdered. 
  • *((** Germans! *(&(*& Russians. They can all go to hell! 

Aug 16 1915 The Register Page 5
Aug 16 1915
Marybourgh Chronicle Wide Bay &
Burnett Advertiser Page 4
March 15 1920 The Sun Sydney, Page 8

I heard the names and other statements growing up being called to and at me. This was in the 1980s and I was dealing with the name calling because of having a German last name of Schmitz, but it was the Polish names which were the worst. You can tell if people call you things just to get on your nerves and teasing, but these were things they meant by the looks on their faces. Think of the TV show All In The Family and how they used to call people things. That was as a joke. It got worse if people meant what they were saying. Things like this stay with you a lifetime.

Putting lives back together
Jimmy's wings he earned just before his death
I started my whole journey into genealogy because of two people. One, my mother's cousin, Jimmy, and what happened to him. The other was my grandmother, Jean, and these sentences she would say over and over again. Add this to the tiny cups she gave me when I was young, and I needed to know more about who these people were which made up - Me.

You take what information you are given and work with it until you can put their lives back together as much as you can to feel like you know the person. Jean has given me this and through research, swearing (and there's been A LOT), and determination I have found out what my grandmother most likely went through during most of her lifetime.  I have written many entries in this blog regarding them and each time I find new information out, I sit back in awe of what this little 4 foot 10 inch person did in her life.

Makes mine seem dull and very safe in comparison.