Yesterday I visited the graves of my grandparents — my dad’s parents — in Nuuanu.
My Grandma Ann died on Girls’ Day in 2002 in Hilo. My grandfather died in 1949; I never got a chance to meet him.
I was lucky. My grandma (above) lived with us for about two decades — and most of my childhood. She introduced me to “Days of Our Lives” when I was 5 years old and taught me how to swear without really swearing. She used to pour hot oil in my ears when they ached and let me look through her button collection and photo albums. And she was stellar in the kitchen, teaching my mom all sorts of tricks and shortcuts she uses to this day.
I spent a lot of time with my grandma, going to the Lanakila Senior Center with her and hanging out with her in the yard. (She had a way with orchids.) And when she moved to Hilo, I wrote to her all the time — about college, about my first job, about living in Chicago. But yesterday, as I sat on a brown paper bag next to her grave, I realized there are so many things I wished I had asked.
What her family was like? Where did her grandparents live in the Azores? What did they do? Was she a nurse or a phlebotomist? Why didn’t she remarry? What was my grandpa like? What was my dad like?
I could go on and on.
Unfortunately, all four of my grandparents are now gone, and I’ll never get a chance to ask those questions to any of them. It’s probably one of the few things I regret in my life.
So if you had the chance to ask your grandparents — the ones who aren’t here anymore — what would you ask them? What would you want to know?
CAT: I would ask them why they worked so hard to provide for their family and was it really a chore or were they happy doing it.
My dad’s dad I would ask how he could own and operate a business for 54 years working six days a week and not go crazy. My dad’s mom I’d ask how she withstood working at a mall department store for 40 + years. I ask my mom’s dad what is was like in their household when my mother was growing up. My mom’s mom all 99 years old of her is still here and we talk a lot. Smart lady, wish I was as laid back as her. she taught me how to cook. She managed the school cafeteria for 40 years. I’d like to know more about my parents as kids but then again there are some things i don’t want to know. Both sides of the family have been in the USA since the late 1500s, have tracked my mother’s mother’s clan down. Going to do the rest soon. Wish my grandparents were around to help with it but they are all buried in Oakwood so I can get a lot there. There are a lot of them I miss but I truly believe they will be there when I get to wherever it is we go.
There are numerous family items that are now mine. I have no idea whose they were before they were my grandparents. I have a grandmother clock that was simply called “great grandmothher’s clock.” I know which side of my family, but I don’t know which great grandmother. There are some wedding bands, still being worn by family members or waiting for their next owners. These are well over 100 years old. Again, I don’t know exactly whose they were originally, and the stories of those relationships. I know only the living grandmother (now deceased) who ultimately passed them on to me
I have all these things, and I will pass them along, but I don’t have the stories to go with them.
I now have a pistol that was found among one grandfather’s things when he passed away when I was four. It wasn’t given to me at age four; a cousin gave it to me when I was in my 40s. I remember my grandfather well, and he spoke no English. I was the only one of my siblings who seemed to understand him. I’d like to ask: “Wassup wth the gun?” No family member knew he had it, until after he died.
My mom really enjoy this post, by the way. She told me about it at dinner that night! LOL
Liked your post. Wondered if you’ve tried asking your parents or friends of your grandma for more information.
Thanks for your responses! I wish all the time I learned more from my grandparents while they were alive. Or at least got their stories on video. Can’t do that now…