Friday, December 17, 2010

Grandma's "Worst Time"

My grandma, Nancy Campbell, had a hard life. She was born in 1891 in Kansas City Kansas. Her mother and father split up when she was little. She was raised as a step child in Orr household resulting from her mother's second marriage. She had a number of step brothers and sisters, most of whom she took care of as the "Nannie" of the house in more ways than one. She left school after the fifth grade and eventually continued her work as a housekeeper and nanny in the homes of families wealthier than her working class one.

When she was 18, she married a man 12 years older than she and quickly had two little girls. He left the family within three years and Grandma had to fend for herself with her two little girls. She continued her domestic work, often living in the homes of her clients. Sometimes the girls (one of whom was my other) would be with her but not always.

She remarried eventually and lived a typical life, if a life was typical during the depression and the war. Shortly after the war, her second husband died and she returned to work, again as a housekeeper and mother's helper in the homes of wealthy families in Kansas City Missouri. In her later years, she took care of her younger sister and their mother until their deaths. She died in 1986 at 95 years old. She was a blessing to all of us in so many ways.

This is all by way of background to recount a story my sister Anola told me when I visited Kansas City in early December. Her son, Gerry, had a school assignment to interview someone old; who better than grandma? He interviewed her in what must have been a highly professional fashion--he is now a highly accomplished professional journalist and editor. He asked the obvious question--at least the one I would have asked--and perhaps like me he would have an expectation of what the answer would be.

His question: What was the worst time you ever had? Her answer was quick, short and to the point. "I don't know. I never had a worst time." Oh, how I hope that gene has found its way into me and through me to my children and grandchildren!

1 comment:

Anola Pickett said...

Hi, Bill

I just read your tribute to Grandma and her spirit. Thanks for putting it out there to share with others.

--love, anola