Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beat Goes On

Not much needs to be said about BLESSINGS when you get to spend time with family for a day.  Especially when it's 4 generations hanging out together.

My mom's sister, who lives in Texas, was visiting my grandparents recently, so we made the easy trek to meet halfway for some playtime and lunch.  Our time was simple; catching up was fun; and the boys were grand.

I grew up knowing three of my great grandparents until I was about 11 years old.  My boys are fortunate enough to have the same amount on my side of the family.  And while they might not be able to appreciate how special this is, they certainly enjoy the treats they're afforded when the great grandparents are around!

Great Grandpa - my mom's dad's dad - and me (18 mos. - 2 years old?) sharing a banana

My mom's parents

My great great grandfather immigrated to The U. S. (Jersey City) from Italy in 1903, leaving his wife and son behind.  Three years later, when Great Grandpa (pictured above with me as a toddler) was 6 years old, he and his mom came to the states and were reunited with his dad.  Several years later the family of three moved to Mississippi where there was better opportunity for work.  Eight more children were born and thanks to the sales of cotton harvests, Great Great Grandpa was quite successful.  He and his large family eventually moved back to New Jersey.  I recall Great Grandpa telling me about a fire on the family's farm and losing one child, but I don't know these specifics. Great Grandpa married my great grandmother (of Italian decent but born in the U.S.) in 1922.  They had three sons, my grandfather (pictured above with the boys) being the youngest.  Frank served and fought in combat in Germany in WWII; Sabbott served in The Army Air Corps as a tail l gunner in B-29 aircraft; and Charles, my grandfather, was a command pilot in the Air Force.

I remember visiting my great grandparents' charming house in NJ and Great Grandpa would take us out back to his beautiful garden.  He would tell us how he used to spray the brick patio in the winter so my mom and her cousins could "ice skate."  A few local brides had their bridal portraits done in front of lush azaleas and a few of those plants now continue to thrive in my grandpa's garden.  The beat goes on.  Great Grandpa's funeral was the first funeral I ever attended.  I was 9.  I didn't want to cry because I knew my mom was sad and I didn't want her to worry about me when she was already feeling down.  There was a huge celebration after the service and I was so confused why people were having fun after someone had just died.  That's when I learned about the celebration of LIFE. 

My grandmother’s mother, Gussie, was born in Nashville, GA and was married at age fourteen.  Gussie lost three husbands in her lifetime.  She had four children with her first husband.  My grandma, Janelle (pictured above with the boys), is the youngest and she and one brother are still alive.  Grandma took care of her mom for a long time and it's at Grandma's house that I remember Great Grandma.  She used to sneak bites of her food to my brother when he was little.  There's one picture where she's feeding him like a puppy.  I remember quilting with my Great Grandma, helping her make individual 'florets' that she would stitch together.  One year we drove to Florida and went to Disney World: Great Grandma, Grandma, Mom, Brother, and me.  I'm not sure how we survived but we did even if Mom did get us lost one night in the Magic Kingdom.

 My dad's parents (Grandpa Moss passed away in June 2000...
boy would he have taught the boys some tricks!)
My dad's mom (kissing Garrett)
My dad's mom is one of 12 kids and was born in Laredo, TX.  Her first language is Spanish, as she had family on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border from the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.  She and my grandpa (from Louisiana; youngest of 14 kids; minor league baseball player; retired Senior Master Sergeant USAF; trained Border Collies; loved to travel; a real cowboy if you ask me) married in 1954 and had my dad and three daughters.

On Joe's side of the family there's Pettie and Delles and if you ever want to meet two sweeter 90+ year olds you should pay them a visit.  They are the sister and brother-in-law to Joe Sr.'s step-mom (who passed away a few years ago), and are the closest individuals still living that Joe Jr. has as 'grandparents,' so we consider them great grandparents to the boys.  And oh how Pettie loves 'her babies!'  We try to stop by once a month and Pettie has covered her door, wall, and fridge with pictures I've sent.  Delles is a Pearl Harbor survivor; their updated kitchen still lacks a dishwasher; the flowers out back always look gorgeous; and the back bedroom is always stocked with boxes of cake mix.  After all, Pettie loves to bake even more than I do, always has sweet treats on hand, and her annual Christmas cookie collection is nothing short of buttery deliciousness.

We all have a history.  I want to make sure the boys know theirs.  And I want them to have memories with the people that matter the most:  FAMILY.


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