My Grandma Huntington’s Birthday

Today would have been my Grandma’s birthday.  She was born in 1903 in Madison Lake, Minnesota.  I didn’t know my grandma very well at all.  Growing up I’d see her once or twice a year.  She wrote letters and I remember my mom reading them but I never felt close to my grandma.

When I was older in my teens I saw her a little more often but not a lot more.  When visits did happen, things were always strained  between my mom and her parents.  For some reason my grandma did like me but there was just something about her that I always felt leery about.  In my later teen years, I finally learned the secrets in the family that was the cause of the tension.

My mom and some of her brothers were abused…it’s strange to me.  Some of the kids were”golden children” and were never touched others got the physical and verbal punishment.  Much of this my mom told me.  Part of me found what my mom said me hard to believe.  Who could do that?  It helped me understand why my mom let some of her younger brothers live with her and my dad during their teen years.  Later in life after my mom passed away, a couple of my siblings met up with my mom’s siblings.  We talked about the abuse and I heard many of the same stories from them.

As an adult I can look back at my mom and see that she carried that abuse with her her entire life.  It affected her far passed the days when it happened.

For a long time, I hated my grandparents for doing that to my mom.  I hated them for doing that to my mom’s siblings.  I hated them for being that kind of people.  Others in the family would collect genealogy and dig into the family past.  Not me…I wanted them taken out of my family history.  I wanted no part or place in being part of an abusive family even if I was only a grand daughter.

Then one day, part of me changed (isn’t it amazing how age can do that?).  I accepted what my grandparents had done and instead turned it around.  Now I celebrate my Mom.  She stood up and said, “I will not raise my own children in abuse.  The continuation of abuse in this family will not happen.”  To me, she’s a hero.  My mom was loving, compassionate and slow to anger. There was not even a thread of abuse to me from her my entire life.  She rarely even raised her voice and I was far from a perfect child.  She actually probably should have raised her voice to me.

I hope my mom’s brothers were able to do the same.  It’s still something that’s not openly discussed in the family so I have no idea.

Anyway-fast forward to present day.  Last week my sister contacted me.  She had something that she wanted me to see….this.


She wanted to know if I wanted it.  It’s my grandpa and grandma’s wedding picture.  The frame is wonderful.  I love the look of the people in the picture….I don’t love the people though.

I looked at the picture and debated.

My mom loved genealogy….I love antiques.  Mom would have wanted someone in the family to keep it.  Mom would want someone to display it..I have the house for it.  I guess it will be me.

I can’t help but wonder how the people in the photo can be so beautiful on the outside but hateful on the inside.

It’s kind of sad.  Others of my cousins had a chance to keep the photo…they didn’t.  I’m guessing they harbor some unhappy feelings too.

The picture is going in the spare bedroom.   When I look at it I am reminded of what a good person my mom was.  I am reminded that even in bad situations, good can still come through.  I am reminded that forgiveness is hard and although I might not have completely forgiven them, I can at least come to a peace.

…and so on this day, what would have been my Grandma’s 112th birthday I’m letting it all go to rest.

I can say…I had abusive grandparents but my mom stopped the cycle and abuse didn’t happen to me.  It didn’t happen to my children either…for that I am truly thankful!

P.S.  I am so sorry for any of you readers who suffered similarly to what my mom did.  Abuse is wrong.  My prayer is that you can overcome what happened to you and you too can be the hero that I see in my mom.  Don’t let the cycle of abuse continue.

12 thoughts on “My Grandma Huntington’s Birthday”

  1. It makes you wonder if your grandparents were abused. Or what had happened in their lives for them to have so much anger. So sad but what a blessing that your mom was able to rise above it and be the mom that she was.

  2. Your mother was indeed very brave to put an end to the cycle of abuse. It takes constant determination and strength to overcome/change how we were brought up.

    We had the same issue in my mother’s family. My mother wasn’t able to break the cycle but I know that she was a better mother than my grandmother, her mother, was. I also know that my children are much better parents than I was. Just keeps getting better with each generation.

    I love family history and have come across that our East European (Germany, Bavaria, Switzerland) ancestors had a lot more “issues” than our ancestors that came from Ireland or England.

  3. This is a wonderful tribute to the strength of your mom. She couldn’t change the past but she certainly changed the future for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Have you read the book “Summer of My German Soldier”? There’s a movie too, made for tv I think. It’s about WWII German soldier prisoners of war who were brought to America. It also shows the effects of abuse from grandparent to parent to the child (the teller of the story.) It makes your heart hurt, but you can see how hard the parent works not to react, and how the child figures out how to act and accept as best she can. We can’t see into people’s hearts.
    1 Samuel 16:7

  5. Wonderful post. Your mom is the hero in the family. She took the high road and was brave enough to not carry on the “family tradition”. How fortunate you were to have her as your mother!

  6. Thank you for sharing that story, I came from a family just like that. Only it was not my grandparents, it was my mother Unfortunately I was not one of the golden children. There were 7 of us, I am the oldest. When I was 14 my brother was killed the day before his 13th birthday. After that it got really bad. My sister next to me could not even go to school some days because of the black eyes. I vowed that I would never ever be like my mother and I did not raise my 2 children with physical or verbal abuse, only love. My son is an engineer and my daughter a trauma nurse. My daughter and I are extremely close, so I did change the pattern. My mother is dead, I do not speak to my father and I have 2 siblings that I am close with, the other 3 were the golden children and they still are verbally abusive to me carrying on mom’s tradition so I keep them out of my life. Your mother sounded like a beautiful person to realize that she needed to love all of her children the same and raise them without abuse <3

  7. My dad has a very heavy log chain. When I was doing genealogy for a library school class a few years ago he hung it on a garden wall, pink phlox set a pretty background for a picture I took. And then he told me the story of my grandfathers grandfather Adam Rose. PA hill folk from Bedford county. He beat his crippled son, my great great uncle Lee with this chain. His wife helped my great great Aunt Carrie run away at age 9 to her sisters in Pittsburgh because of the abuse. The sisters had already run away. I think the coolest thing about that chain is my grandfather got it from Uncle Lee who used it down to my dad who uses it to this day. Its an object that has a story that should not be forgotten, and should be used positively despite its negative history.

  8. Thank you for sharing this powerful story. So much shame attached to this kind of family “issue”. I also come from a family of abuse – several kinds of abuse. I’m old now, no children from me and for good reason. But I see the effects of generations of abuse in all my family – it is a heavy load. And I also observe that the abuse is never contained by family – it spreads out to the larger society and poisons relationships in the community. As the family goes, so goes the community. Talking about it, sharing, is the first step to change, to breaking the load of shame and guilt. You make a safe place for others to end the shame and hopefully end the cycle. Your bravery and sharing is a light against the darkness of no change. Thank you.

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