My grandmother’s family was well-to-do. While her two older brothers went to school, she and her younger sister were raised at home. A nanny tutored them in school subjects and they had a cook, a housemaid, and a laundress who cared for their needs.
This was the early 1900’s and a woman’s future was very iffy. My great-grandmother wanted her daughters prepared for whatever waited for them, so the girls were expected to help the servants and learn how to do the daily chores.
When my grandmother was 12 years old, her father died suddenly. His business partners asked my great-grandmother to sign papers and she did, thinking they could be trusted. In a matter of weeks, she and the children were penniless and homeless. The men swindled her out of land, buildings, and other investments.
Some friends came to their rescue and offered them a place to stay. The boys went to work and my grandmother went to work for her laundress.
When my grandmother talked about this woman, it was always with a smile. My great-grandmother was a harsh woman before the death of my great-grandfather and she became even more so after his death.
The laundress consoled my grandmother. She befriended her, looked out for her, and gave her advice. She was the one person my grandmother could trust. She got her through this terrible part of her life.
My grandmother never regained her monetary wealth. She often had to fend for herself and her five children on her own since my grandfather was of little help. She came to live with us right after my parents married and lived with my mother for most of her life after that.
Her story deserves to be told. It is a real life fable with several morals hidden within it, but best yet, it is the story of a strong and resilient woman who learned to make the best of her life.