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Back from the Funeral - Mo's Journal
July 24th, 2007
12:32 pm

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Back from the Funeral

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From:mofic
Date:July 30th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
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If you care to share, I would like to know how you came not to know your grandparent.

I don't actually have the family tree but there's a copy of it hanging in my mother's home. I don't know who has the original, but it is a pretty interesting document.
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From:libgirl
Date:July 30th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
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Actually, rereading my comment, I mis-stated the relationship. It wasn't my grandmother, but my great-grandmother I didn't know. And, to be honest, I wish I knew why I didn't know her as well.

Your question has sparked a desire in me to write a post about it, but in case I don't, I'll tell you here as well.

Ruby was my grandmother, and her mother Hazel never had anything to do with any of Ruby's grandchildren or children from the time my Mom was about 16. Prior to that time, Hazel and another of her daughters, Bonnie, periodically lived with Ruby and her family and Ruby, being significantly older than Bonnie (who was a year or so younger than my mother), was frequently in the position of parenting her youngest sister.

Family history and my mother's memory tells me that Hazel was living elsewhere and sending money and gifts to Bonnie to help support her. There was also a large amount of favoritism. If Ruby told her that she couldn't do something, or there was no money for something (Ruby already having six children of her own), Hazel would swoop in and rescue Bonnie from Ruby and she would get whatever she wanted.

Apparently, one day Bonnie called Ruby a bitch. Ours is a Southern family and that was unacceptable on many fronts and Ruby slapped her. Hazel came the next day and took Bonnie and no one in Ruby's family saw or heard from them for a while.

When she was 22, my mother gave birth to the first grandchild of Ruby and the first great-grandchild of Hazel, me. When I was about four, we went to Hazel's house so she could meet me. Mom knocked on the door and greeted Hazel as "Mamaw." Despite my age, I remember this (or have fabricated a very real story-memory of it), Hazel said that my Mother was no grandchild of hers and I was nothing to her.

Now, my family is confused about why the estrangement actually took place. The reason cited is that Mamawl slapped Bonnie and Hazel got mad, but it doesn't make any sense in the larger scheme. Mamawl died when I was five and Hazel and Bonnie didn't come to the funeral, instead they went to the house and when the family got back from the burial they found them going through Mamawl's things and packing what they wanted. They were forcibly evicted from the house.

I think that's why so much family animosity remained, if they hadn't tried to loot Mamawl's house while she was being buried, I think the family would have been willing to forgive, forget and move on.

Many years later, Hazel, who didn't die until I was in my early twenties and who never met a single of Ruby's 12 grandchildren or (at the time) great-grandchild, tried to reconcile with the family and sent letters to Papawl. He was willing to reconcile and told her about us and she was supposed to come visit and meet everyone, but she never did. When she died, Ruby's entire family, all six children and spouses, went to the funeral, but none of the grandchildren were permitted to go.

Tension was still so high that I know of at least two people who carried guns under their shirts (not something I personally approved of).

No one seems to know what really happened. Ruby was one of four children and was the only one ostracized. Interestingly, Bonnie was the only sibling who participated in the estrangement. Ruby and her family and and continue to have strong relationships with her brother and other sister. Ruby's other siblings also have no idea what the real cause was.

Hazel never told anyone, Ruby never really understood and Bonnie has never told anyone if she knew. She was spoiled and selfish at the time, but she was also young at the time. Maybe 15 or so. She's different now. I know her and while she's not close to the family, there's no lingering estrangement there.

I know this is a bit disjointed, I'll try to make it make more sense! :(
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From:mofic
Date:July 31st, 2007 10:44 am (UTC)
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I often hear stories like that - with a long term estrangement and nobody really knows why. Sometimes it continues for generations without any reason anyone knows!

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