In writing this series, I hope to make amends with my grandmother's spirit. I was 24 years old when she left us for her reward, and up to that point in my life, I didn't have the knowledge, nor the maturity, to empathize with what her life must have been like, after experiencing the loss of three husbands, and then, ultimately, living out her last 36 years as a widow. Being a person who always reaches out and tries to understand and connect with others, I feel just awful for not knowing her better, seeing her more clearly, and/or loving her more dearly. In my grown-up, intellectual mind, I know that really have no fault, especially since I was never told of her hardships; but the sentimental, emotionally-connected part of me is heavy-laden with a feeling of guilt, every time I think about how I distanced myself from this grandmother, in favor of my paternal one. Mary Thomas' outer-shell was deservedly hardened. I imagine she must have lived each day that I knew her constantly protecting and shielding her heart from further pain.
I know nothing about my maternal grandparent's marriage except that it happened, and that they had two children together; my uncle, Howell Webster, born in 1931 and my mother, Maryanne, in 1934. However, this third article from the Journal & Guide at least hints at the fact that my grandmother may have been living a happy life. She was already active in the church she was a member of, and funeralized in 53 years later. Her son was winning baby contests, and she would, just two months after this, conceive my mother with her husband, Daniel.
At some point, the happy days ended for Daniel and Mary. For whatever the reason(s), my grandfather abandoned his wife and children when my mother was just four years old. The family never saw or heard from him again, and I, in my 14 years of research, have been unable to track him down to find out where he went, or what happened to him. In a recent interview with my uncle who only vaguely remembers having a father, he recalled Daniel Hill as being a "mean man". My mother doesn't remember her father at all, and neither of them have a clue what he even looked like.
So, for my grandmother, this was blow #2. Another marriage dissipated, but for a completely different reason. This time, she was left with two children to raise. She'd just lost her father (in 1936), but thankfully, had her mother there to help her. Though she was saddened by this loss, she was not broken. Help (and another chance at love) was on the way. Stay tuned for Part III...