Around the turn of the century, my grandmother came to a tiny Iowa town to work in the grocery store. We have only a dark photo showing her inside the establishment, but it’s possible to imagine how things went the day my Grandpa, a local would-be farmer, walked in and met her.
With no scrapbooks dating that far back, the details have been left up to our imaginations. Still, the wedding photograph below reflects positivity, especially compared with some stern-faced one from this era. Knowing this couple in their later years, I can picture a not-so-instant falling-in-love.
By the time I hung around their farm as a teen, the opposite aspects of their personalities stood out. Invariably, Grandpa shivered and turned the thermostat up. Grandma promptly turned it down. Just one small but constant action taking place in their everyday lives each winter.
But they agreed on many points. Work hard and whatever you do, do NOT waste a penny. At the end of each long day, go to your rest with hope for the new day coming.
They had worked nonstop to make a life here, having lost a farm during the Great Depression and earned back the land through intense physical labor. Grandma knew work from the age of eleven, when her mother died and she hired out to clean other people’s houses. This couple also produced six children–five girls and my father.
During my youth, these aunts and uncles came ’round for the holidays and brought cousins to play with. By then, this farm family survived World War II as well, with their only son/brother serving four long years. So much for the “only son of a family farmer” exemption.
Across the nation, a similar story played out among family after family. But many of them lost the son or sons and daughters they sent off to war. As Veterans’ Day approached, and Thanksgiving, many an empty place was set at the table.
It’s that time of year. I’m pausing to remember and be grateful for the sacrifices made, and for all the good we enjoy today.