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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rebel Blood

Don't let the leather coat fool you, my grandma was the original rebel in the family. Check out this chunk of a post from my mom's blog:

"You left the past behind and moved to Idaho where you both taught. Suddenly, you went to California where I was born. Four more children and four more towns: too many names of places and jobs for me to remember them all. But then Dad [David] worked as a mathematician (his only real love in life was numbers) at McDonnell Douglas on some secret project related to laser technology. He came home and said that what he was working on could be used for great good or great harm. Soon he was fired again. The truth is fuzzy: he said his faith in God interfered with his job. An article in Reader’s Digest that year may have explained it: corporate greed and the race for patents on new technology. He was too smart for us. When he died his possessions included pages of formulas figured and an indexed Bible he made for himself. Your children needed shoes, but there wasn’t money. David said to go home to your dad, he’ll take better care of you.

There are pictures of us five kids, pictures of your honeymoon, pictures of you with us. But the only picture we have, all seven of us, was taken that year we separated. We look happy, normal, no hint of the anguish to come. The dress in the picture lasted you ten years, faded and worn down to threads.

Divorce was the unpardonable sin. It’s 1960 and everyone is married then. Divorce had a stigma and it’s participants were untouchables. The community of faith was more interested in whispers of shame than a hug given in love. Wise counselors urged you to give those children up for adoption as you could never survive a single mom in the world of families. You kept your faith and hung on tight to God in spite of the looks and reproach. When I talk to you about your life, I ask, “Didn’t you get angry?” You always says no, you don’t remember anger. You wanted Dad back and were willing to forgive him. So you go on believing in the God of your faith.

We lived in a travel trailer with three beds and a couch. In one bunk I slept at my sister’s feet. She still peed the bed so it seemed that I did too. In the other bunk my brothers slept head to foot. My older sister slept with my mom. Yet I remember that Christmas we each got the present we wanted most. I got a doll with eyes that move. You worked the midnight shift in a factory you hated so that we could eat. Grandma and Grandpa helped us, but not kindly.

You got a teaching job and we moved to the country away your strict God-fearing parents. You came home one day no longer a teacher. Taking care of five kids didn’t leave enough time for lesson plans and grading papers. Some kids that you taught came back to honor you thirty years later."
My grandma is a funny old lady, and she is totally fine with that. She looks at the world differently. Sometimes really differently. But I think I got some of that from her and I think it's been a good thing. Even if she does have Bible study with her dog.


wilsonian said...

Wow. Your mother is a great writer.

Ryan Kellermeyer said...

She makes a mean banana pudding too!