Archive - Blog

My Grandmother was Given Away to Save Money

Sound awful? Well, my great-grandfather, Petras “Peter” Gilles died in a coal mining accident when my grandmother was 9 months old. (Poor little Martha!) There was no insurance, no income and four hungry kids so my great-grandmother, Bertha decided to give my grandmother away to lessen the burden on the family.

The idea itself wasn't actually that bad because Martha would have had a better life and would have stayed with family, her childless aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, my grandmother cried terribly for days and days--family gossip says she may also have become ill--so back she went. This is where the story takes a turn for the worse.

Bertha never forgave my grandmother for returning and scapegoated her for the rest of her life. (Bertha, you bitter, bitter woman!) This, in turn, made my grandmother long for the father she never knew. Sadly, anytime Martha asked about her father, my great-grandmother would refuse to speak of him. This only made my grandmother pine for him more.

Fast forward to the present day: My grandmother is no longer with us and my mother decides she'd like to honor her mother by finding out more about Peter. My step-father and mother perform months and months of research. They also engage fantastic genealogists. Lo and behold, they find family still living in Poland and Peter's family farmland in Lithuania. My mother decides she wants to visit and invites everyone in the family along for a 2 week trip. My brother Doug, his wife Karyn, my second cousin Patty and I agree to travel with her. Joining us along the way will be a long-lost "cousin" named Agata, her family and her boyfriend in Poland, and a genealogist named Vidimantas and his wife in Lithuania.

Which leads us to the end of May: It's two weeks before we leave on our trip and my mother asks me if I want to do a blog about our travels. I seize the opportunity and that makes...

New thing #3 tried this week: A personal blog