My grandmother had three sets of grandchildren: her grandchildren, those other two, and the strays. I was one of the other two and I believe that I heard better stories from her because of it. I know things that my older siblings and cousins don’t know. Grandma was inventive and colorful in her storytelling, much to the chargin of my mother and aunt.
The photo at the left is Gregory, my grandfather’s youngest brother. His portrait hung over the bed in one of the rooms at grandma’s house. I remember taking naps with my cousin, Linda, and looking backwards up at the portrait while trying to fall asleep. He was the cause of wonder because we had not known him.
According to grandma, Gregory wanted to go to fight in the war more than anything else. He wanted to serve so much that he lied about his age so he could enlist. Before he left, he came to the farm to visit one last time. He did not live nearby. My mother was the only child at home that day. I imagine that Clare and Russell must have been at school but their where abouts were never part of the story. That meant my mother was the only child who ever met Gregory. I thought that meant I had some special claim and connection. Grandma’s story went on to tell us that he had been killed in the War and was buried in the Black Forest. I remember wondering where he was when I traveled through the Black Forest as a young adult.
That was my story of Gregory for years. Then one of my sisters became interested in genealogy. She informed me that my story was completely wrong. His name was really William, though he did register in the war as Gregory for some reason. He was a cook in the Army, in his 20s, and died in France where he was buried. I am not sure we know how he died. If you look closely at the photo, you can see one of his fingers is missing. He probably would not have done well with a rifle. The telegram telling my grandparents that he had died did not arrive until a few months after the war had ended.
I still like my version of the story and it is what I hang onto. Like my Grandma Jackson, I tell the story better than I write it. You will have to trust me on that point.
I’ll get back to blogging about my health and fitness now.