Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday: Grandma Dunia

Yesterday I told an... interesting story... that took place in my Grandmother's house when I was six years old.

Since I haven't picked up my camera in over a week, and have no new pictures to share, I thought I would show you some old ones, and link it to yesterday's post. Make this a "theme week" as it were.

So here are some photos (and further tales) of my mother's mother, my Grandma Dunia. She was a tough cookie, a no-nonsense broad. Not the least bit sweet and cuddly; I have no idea what that kind of grandmother would be like.

Dunia and Joe, my Mother's parents, around 1920
Grandma Dunia, with her children and their spouses, around 1960.
Grandma, me and Dad, my house, 1967
My father had no great love for his mother-in-law. He said of her: "She has no appreciation of art, not a drop of poetry in her soul. If you can't eat it, make money from it or gain status by it, it's useless to her."

And he was not wrong. She was a survivor, the only member of her family to leave Eastern Europe before the holocaust. She was a shrewd businesswoman. And not a very nice mother. My mother has spent much of her adult life in psychotherapy. Not without cause.

Grandma shortly after her stroke, surrounded by her granddaughters.
Many years ago my mother tried to explain to her mother why she was in therapy. Unable to find the right words, she eventually blurted out: "Because I'm just not happy, Mom."  To which my grandmother replied (just like in the old joke): "Happy? Pffft. Who's happy?"

Grandma was decidedly old world, old school. In her world, people don't go into "therapy," they just go about their business. Unless they don't. Unless they break down.

Then they lie on the living room floor for two months in a semi-catatonic state while their twelve year-old, eldest daughter takes over running the business and the care of her younger siblings. And when they snap back out of this breakdown? They never thank their daughter for holding the family together. In fact, they never speak of it again, because weakness is shameful.

Three generations (Me, Mom, Grandma) 1974
Yes, my mother is the eldest. Her younger brother, my Uncle Walter, is a psychologist and her younger sister, my Aunt Marilyn, is certifiably crazy. Go figure.

Surrounded by granddaughters (Jess, Annette & Me), 1974
Grandma Dunia: businesswoman, candy-store proprietor, poker-player, chain-smoker, bootlegger, the go-to-woman if you were a gal "in trouble" before abortions became legal.

Yes, I may have some more stories to tell.

I’m linking up to Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday.

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