My maternal grandparents came from a migrant farming background. They traveled with their families between Oklahoma, Missouri, and Michigan. They made a decision to settle down and own a home. They didn’t want to just make it, they wanted better for their children so shortly after they were married they “made their stand” and settled in a small town in Northwest Ohio. My grandfather farmed and worked in factory when he could. My grandmother cleaned other people’s homes during the day and worked 3rd shift in a factory as well as raising 4 children. All so they could buy their first home, have their own land, and offer their children a better opportunity than anything they had known as children. They raised 5 children. My mother went to college because that was her mother’s dream. My three uncles have always worked for themselves, and most often worked with each other. My aunt can do anything she sets her mind on and occasionally has worked with my uncle’s.
My paternal grandmother’s family have been in Northwest Ohio for what seems like forever. My great-great grandparents lived less than 6 miles from where I am sitting right now. They are an integral part of the history of these small towns, those family names are recognized.
My paternal grandfather’s family is much different. My great-grandmother was 19 when she stepped onto a boat in Belgium to take a month long journey across the ocean. She traveled as a nanny for her cousins who had 4 young children. She was “promised” to a man who was waiting for her in Detroit MI. She had several children, but only 2 survived. Her husband was an abusive drunk who she walked out on. She was a devout Catholic, 1000’s of miles from family, who couldn’t speak any English – yet she was not only strong enough to leave her family in Belgium, but strong enough to take on raising children on her own. At some point, she ended up with another man who raised her children as his own and helped her attain the farm where I am living now.
My grandmother was one of thirteen children and she was married to my grandfather because he was able to also take in 2 of her brothers and one of her sisters. My grandfather lost his arm as a teenager. Supposedly my great-grandfather was hesitant to marry his daughter to a one-armed man because he questioned his ability to provide for a family. My grandfather worked as a tool and die maker for the ARO Corp here in Bryan and also farmed hundreds of acres, trained horses for others, and had a successful hog farm. My great-grandmother worked for Ohio Art Company and helped with the farm. My grandmother married into a two income family, but that didn’t matter, she also worked. She was an outstanding pie maker and made pies for some of the local restaurants as well as working for the Ohio Art Company. They raised four children who all went to college and had wonderful jobs and good marriages.
With people in my past who have accomplished so much, what right do I have to complain about anything. I am so thankful for their strength. Whenever I think I can’t handle something, I remember my family and know that within me is their strength that can get me through everything.