My great grandma Grace died this past weekend just three months short of turning 102. She and I share a birthday, May 16th. We also happen to share the middle name Grace, as well.
It’s amazing for me to think about the life she led and everything she saw in this world. At the age I am now she was in the thick of the Great Depression living in a log cabin deep in the woods of Minnesota, feeding her family almost entirely from canned vegetables they grew in their garden.
Her life story is an incredible one, full of secret adoptions and fortune tellers revealing the truth. I actually wrote a post about it two years ago when she turned 100. Today as I think about the life of my great grandma I thought it felt right to share a piece of her story once again.
Grace was un-expectantly born to an unwed young mother on May 16th, 1913 in a small town in Iowa. (Pre the days of MTV glorifying teen moms.) Her mother complained of stomach cramps, was taken to the hospital, and a few hours later gave birth to Grace.
Almost immediately, Grace’s grandmother demanded she be put up for adoption. A minister from the hospital knew of a family that lived close by who couldn’t have children, so he made arrangements for Grace to be adopted by them, all very hush hush as you can imagine. Meanwhile… Grace’s young father had no idea any of this was happening because he had briefly left the state to take work on a temporary logging assignment. When he returned a week later and learned of his baby girl Grace who had already been given away, he asked her mother to marry him and they went to the adoption house to get her back.
The adoption family agreed to give Grace back the following day, but when her young birth parents returned to pick her up the next day, the new family had packed up everything and moved in the middle of the night, Grace in tow.
For the next sixteen years Grace’s real parents looked for her, while she had no idea they even existed.
Looking back, Grace has said, it now makes sense to her why her adoptive family moved around so much when she was growing up. She always kind of wondered if they were hiding, when in reality, they were just hiding her. It wasn’t until 1929 when at a county fair with a friend, when Grace would learn the truth.
Simply for the fun of it, she and her friend decided to visit the “See’er” to have their fortunes told.
And it was this See’er, who was obviously a complete stranger I might add, who revealed to my great-grandma at just sixteen years old, that she was actually adopted.
The truth became certain when Grace returned home and casually mentioned to her parents what had happened at the fair and they instantly became irate and forbid her to go to another fair, and of course ever visit another See’er. See’ers were the devils people.
At this point I would probably need an entire blog to fully give my grandma’s life story justice because it goes on to include getting reunited with her sister fifty years later, a kidnapping with a tragic ending, (with once again the true being revealed by a fortune teller) and just so much more of everything else life involves in between. And yet it’s amazing to me how modest my grandma is about herself and her legacy, she doesn’t see anything special about it all.
Rest in peace, sweet Grandma Grace. I hope you’re reunited with all of your family and friends who have gone before you. And of course all of your awesome dogs, as well.
May 16, 1913- January 17, 2015.