Storytelling: Learning about family through another’s eyes

A view of grandparents–and parents–through a cousin’s eyes

“You learn something new every day.”

Miltie’s grandpa Eddie married my grandma, Lalla, making Eddie’s daughter, Delores, and my father, Rodney (“Merle”), step-siblings. That means that Lynne and I gained three new cousins–Virginia, Patricia, and Miltie–when our grandparents married (and they gained us!) πŸ™‚

I learned something from Miltie’s words, how a parent’s death can affect another parent’s future through a child’s eyes, and how that child’s relationships may be affected later in life. These words help provide clarity and understanding after a child experiences a death. Adjustment is hard, it wasn’t easy, and we know that now.

As Miltie referenced a wise lady in his post, we are always learning.

Below are memories of our grandparents and parents that Miltie graciously shared with me. Thank you for a new perspective.

The grandfather I shared

OR: The grandmother I knew and the grandmother I never met. They were best friends.

My maternal grandmother died in November of 1949. My oldest sister was born the following May, and the next sister three years later in 1953 . It was 10 more years before I came along. My siblings and I never knew our blood grandmother. But we have treasured family pictures of her. And she left a photo album that was inscribed with some of her musings. We also have some keepsakes that she passed down.

My grandfather was an only child who lost his mother just about a month before his 7th birthday. I believe this greatly shaped his later years, as sometime after my grandmother Juanita died he married her best friend, Lalla. Lalla was divorced and had one son. I am learning more about her from my step cousins as she was their paternal grandmother.

My mother was an only child, just like her father. While my siblings and I referred to Lalla as Grandma, mom only referred to her as “Lalla”. To her our grandparents were always “Dad and Lalla”. I never heard her speak anything else. In fact she didn’t ever speak of their relationship. I believe that somewhere deep inside mom was slightly hurt that her dad remarried. She never even acknowledged that she had a step brother from that marriage. He was Lalla’s son, “Merle”.

I remember one day in the house on 59th street grandma told me, “You learn something new everyday.” I was amazed that a woman that old didn’t already know everything she would ever know and that she was still learning. When Lalla died in 1978, grandpa didn’t want to go back to the house that they shared. So he lived with us for a while before finally deciding to move into a retirement community at the age of 82. Grandpa finally passed away early in the morning on the day “the mountain blew”.

 

Below is my favorite photo of our shared grandpa, Eddie (even though it’s posted above). I enlarged it to better view their happy faces.

grandpa-eddie-haggie-grandma-lalla-butterfield-geier-haggie_early-50s-hood-canal_may-2016

Eddie Haggie and Lalla Butterfield Geier Haggie, our grandparents. They married in about 1952


Did you notice the tiny photo on the lower left in the collage above? The two women standing on the back right were our grandmothers Lalla (second from right) and Juanita (far right), I believe in 1927 when they worked for the Sperry Flour factory in Tacoma. They were close friends.

Is there someone in your family you can ask about a shared relative? Can you bring an ancestor to life through another’s eyes? If so, let me know and maybe we can share your story.

Happy Profiling! ❀


Thanks for this contribution, and welcome aboard, Miltie!


Top photo: Eddie and Juanita (Cone) Haggie and credit to Miltie. Ed and Juanita were Miltie’s maternal grandparents. You can read more about Eddie, my step grandfather, HERE.

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  1. Such a very touching and insightful post. I would think that marrying Juanita’s best friend was a sign of how much he had loved her. But I also understand why his daughter might have had a hard time adjusting to it.

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    1. Thank you, Amy. I am very glad Miltie shared this because, when thinking about the affect on a child when families merge, in this case, both my father and Ed’s daughter had been only children. This fact may provide further clarification regarding non-acceptance issues. I have the feeling grandpa loved them both very dearly. All of this helps tell our family story. πŸ™‚

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  2. I can relate to the first comment since a similar situation kept my cousins away. I have tried to reconnect, but sadly to no avail.

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    1. This can be devastating to a family, and my heart breaks reading your story. I hope you can meet up one day when enough time has passed and views may have softened…is that the right way to say that? Best of luck to you and your family. ❀

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      Reply

        1. You’re most welcome. πŸ™‚

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  3. miltoncampbell27 August 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    My sisters and I have 4 first cousins that we haven’t seen for nearly 50 years. There mother cut off the family after her divorce form uncle Wes. In fact she outright lied to us saying that Wes had molested his own children and was locked up in Walla Walla State Penitentiary. I found the truth a couple of years after mom passed. …Well that will be another blog.

    We also have 2 step cousins. I am so glad to be reconnecting with after 35 years. Love you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. It is heart-breaking to read about the fracture in the family you mention here, but it happens. We have to make the best of it and I think, above all else, never assume until we know for sure. Hard, but I think great advice. Will you be able to meet your four cousins? I hope so. For our part, I’m so glad we’ve reconnected. Love you, too, Cuz. πŸ™‚

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