Today is my maternal grandmother's 87th birthday.
I have spoken briefly of my grandmother in my "100 Things" post last year, but since today is her day, I'd like to tell you a bit more about her.
My Grandmother was born in Yardley, Pennsylvania in 1920, but was raised in Trenton, New Jersey. She is one of nine siblings. She was raised in a religious home by her mother, who was a house-cleaner, and a father who worked on the railroads.
She married my Granddad at age 18, while he was teaching at Cheney state college. My grandmother was nearly 20 when my mother was born in December of 1939. With war on the horizon, my grandmother got a job in a defense plant that built fighter aircraft. She worked at the factory throughout the war and was probably the reason that our side won!
After V-E and V-J days, my grandmother, like most American women, was tossed out of work so that the returning soldiers could have jobs... by this time, she was used to making her own money, so she went to night school and got her degree in nursing.
My grandparents divorced when my mother was not quite a teenager, and the family was living in Marshall, Texas, where my granddad taught at one of the colleges. My grandmother took my mother and raised her around her extended family in Newtown, Pennsylvania... in a large house, just down the street from St. Mark's AME Zion Church (where my mom married my dad in 1957).
My mom Married my dad in 1957 and since my dad was a soldier, she went to California with him... my grandmother remarried a minister, and settled in Springfield, New Jersey. When my parents divorced in 1969, my mother, with her three children (the youngest being me, age 5) moved to New Jersey to be with her.
Although we live in the next town over, my grandmother was to be the most important person in my life in my formative years. I have mentioned before that I learned what a man shouldn't be by negative example... and that I had a role model in Captain James Tiberius Kirk. What I learned from my grandmother was dignity and correct, respectful behavior.
My grandmother is a grand woman. She is the most dignified, classy woman I have ever known. She is a woman of great faith, love and kindness. She demanded that I behave correctly at all times. She had a deep love for education, and would brook no nonsense when it came to getting good grades.
When I was about 9, my grandmother gave me, my sister and brother a set of World Book encyclopedias. It was to be one of the most important moments in my life. I mentioned in previous posts that I was nicknamed "Professor" when I was a kid... it was mainly because of the encyclopedias... which I would read, from cover to cover, just for fun.
My grandmother taught me to want more, and that there wasn't much that I couldn't achieve.
My grandmother is a tough woman... nearly ten years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, not hesitating a bit, she immediately got a second opinion, and on confirmation the had a mastectomy. She survived Chemo and radiation and has been cancer-free ever since. She has since survived a few mini-strokes, and is every bit as clear in mind and ability as she has ever been. She bore her surgeries, treatments and rehab with strength and grace.
If it can be said that I am a good man, my grandmother gets the credit for it.
The picture below was taken last spring, outside of our church. Hopefully, I will see her again as soon as the weather breaks.
My grandmother is the best of people. I thank God for the gift.
NOTE: "Shoot 'Em Up Friday" will return next week.