her mother, Anna, was a pastor's wife. They were poor as immigrant pastor's families can be, and Anna made their clothes out of flour sacks.
Grandma hated being poor, and she married an Irishman to get out of it.
Beyond my mother he was good for little else besides drink, and she
moved back with Ernst and Anna and the five other siblings. My
great-grandfather never forgave the Irishman for shabby treatment of his
girl, and he and Anna raised my mother along with the other children.
Years later, my Grandma married my Grandpa Jim, who I adored fiercely.
He was a sweet man with children and a lousy husband. After 8 years my
Grandma gave that man the boot, but kept his name and put herself
through college to become an accountant.
Grandma Ann was a CPA
in San Francisco for 40 some years. She built her own practice by
working long hours--I never saw her less than impeccably dressed until
long after she retired. Sharp suits, ridiculous heels on her 5 foot
frame, hair done just so. She let us play with her old makeup
sometimes--and she had plenty of that. Earrings, scarves, broaches,
pearls. Grandma Ann hated being poor, and when she got out of poverty
she swore never to go back.
Somewhere in San Francisco she met
the love of her life, my Grandpa Robert. He was a probate attorney, and
the two of them teamed up to build up an office in San Francisco--she
took care of client's needs while they lived, and he buried them and
took care of the estate after they didn't. They teased each other
mercilessly--he'd call her "Granny Annie" and she'd say "Oh Robert" most
days a million times. At 5:00 or when the time was right, they had a
little drinkie poo to cap of the day. Or two sometimes.
Ann was a sharp woman with a lot of angles. She was hard to get to know
and a difficult mother. She drove down one way streets the wrong way to
take a shortcut and she fired as many secretaries and assistants as she
hired--that is, all of them eventually.
She could play piano
brilliantly, although I almost never heard her play. She was my favorite
Grandma, and yet so very distant. She wasn't a bake cookies kind of
Grandma. She was hard beauty with occasional glimpses into her
complicated interior life. She was so very kind to me.
What a sad thing to not know more of her.