Yesterday’s Disco Mary post reminded me of my great grandmother. Here’s a story about her. It’s actually part of a larger story which starts here and hasn’t ended yet.
How We Called this Place Home
Late in life she had to ask for help with everyday things and it pained her to do so. Still, she knew she was lucky, she aged gracefully, well into her 70’s she still moved like a dancer. She moved through the house as if it were a ballroom, and with such purpose and confidence that it always seemed she was just about to lift off the ground and float. When in her 80’s she could no longer manage the stairs on her own I would hold her hand to keep her steady. Upstairs it was warmer and in the kitchen we drank coffee together and talked. Being just a kid I did most of the talking, until I asked if she had been a dancer.
She sighed and smiled and said she used to dream of dancing when she was even younger than me, that she and her sister used dance. She told me that her sister had even been to school to dance, but that was before the war. When the fighting broke out in the cities she was forbidden to return until the trouble was over so she stayed home taught her sister to dance at night and worked in the day. Both girls worked on the largest estate in the area, providing domestic help and carrying water from the well up to the house. When the war ended my grandmother was still just a girl of 12 but her sister was already 17 and married. For the last two years of the war my grandmother carried water up the hill alone and at night she danced without her sister.
The lady of the house passed away with only my grandmother who was hired help at her side, her oldest son was still fighting in the war which would end four months later. Both of her surviving daughters were expecting children and her husband was nowhere to be found. My grandmother sent a messenger for the husband and with no one to care for anymore she went home. She did not know that months later that the oldest son would come home to find the house dark and empty; she only knew afterwards that he had gone. Six years later she still only knew of him, she had never seen his face or heard his voice but when she stepped off of the boat in New York Harbor all she had a small bag and his name and address.