Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My maternal grandmother, Lucille May Wilford Widener

Trying to be interesting & creative, what can I say about my maternal grandmother? She was first generation American, having been born to immigrants from Belgium and Switzerland. She was the seventh of ten children, twin sibling having been born and died three years before her birth. She had 4 surviving brothers and 3 surviving sisters.

Family was important to my grandmother, but at times I feel her intentions were misunderstood. As an adult, I can look back and see times that she reacted out of desperation, not necessarily wisdom. There are times I wish she was still alive so I could get my questions answered.

What I do know is that my grandmother graduates from Eugene High School. She wanted to be a nurse, but never fulfilled that dream. Instead, she met my grandfather, Wendell Widener, who was older and the divorced father of three children. I can only imagine what went through her parent's minds at the time!

Grandma and Granddad were married on February 28, 1940 in Vancouver, Clark, Washington. They made their first home in Eugene, Lane, Oregon. A few months after their marriage, my mother was born to them. My grandmother, having never been a mother before, had a difficult time transitioning into that role. I think that is the basis for the difficulties in my mother and grandmother's relationship.

When my mother was small, one of her older half brother's came down with a case of rheumatic fever, which at that time was know to be deadly in many cases. My grandmother took care of him as much as she could. At one point, my uncle was up at Oregon Health Sciences University receiving treatment. Several of his doctors had stated that my uncle would not live to see adulthood. My grandmother had the Mormon Missionaries give my uncle a blessing. He not only outlived his doctors, he lived to the age of 69, eleven days shy of his 70th birthday.

When my granddad and his first wife divorced, he got the boys and she took the girl. It was unfortunate because my aunt didn't really have a chance to know her father or half siblings. My oldest Uncle spent most of the time at my granddad's parents who lived in Creswell, Oregon. My other uncle spent more time with my own grandmother. In spite of the fact that he was not her biological mother, my grandmother was more of a mother to him than his own mother was.

In 1943, my mother was given a baby sister. In 1947, a brother was born and in 1953, another sister. The family was complete.