In Memory of my Great-Grandparents (Part 1)


It’s Halloween. The children dressed in costume are passing through our neighbourhood going door to door.

“Trick or treat” they sing as the door swings open.

A night for ghosts and goblins – and scary feelings.

This festive night has put me in the mood to write a story about my great-grandparents.

My great-grandfather grew up on a farm. Tragically, at the age of thirteen he lost his right leg above the knee in a farming accident. He learned to walk and work with a wooden leg by tying the bandages between the skin and the wood for comfort.

My great-grandfather married at the age of twenty-three which was relatively late in life for that generation as many young people married in their teens.

My great-grandmother was approximately the same age as my great-grandfather when she married him. In her teens, she began her journey in life as a cloistered nun. As a cloistered nun she was not allowed to leave the monastery unless it was for medical reasons. She wore traditional clothing that included a tunic tied at the waist with a scapular over it. A scapular is a piece of woollen cloth worn over the shoulders with an opening for the head. She also wore a white wimple that encircled the face along with a large crucifix around her neck. This was a traditional nun’s attire for that time in history.

Unfortunately, my great-grandmother’s religious journey did not last very long. She became sick and was forced to quit the monastery at an early age. She then got married and raised five beautiful children. Although she led a domestic life of marriage and children, she faced, as we all do, challenges that test one’s faith.

When I was little, around four years of age, I used to visit my grandparents and great-grandparents as they all lived in the same house. My great-grandparents were my grandmother’s parents and had gone to live with her as there were no retirement homes back then. My first memories of my great-grandfather were that he was a tall thin man with white hair and blue eyes and had a nice smile. And, he had this scary leg. At my height I could see only the leg. I can still remember the sound of the soft step followed by the crisp hard noise of the wooden leg hitting the floor. It was painful for him to wear and he would remove it sometimes after he sat down to relieve the pressure.

Being only four, the sight and thought of the leg traumatized me. My mother said that he wanted so dearly to take me in his arms but I was very scared to even be close to him. I remember that feeling very clearly. I also remember that one day he offered me chocolate. I was sitting on my mother’s knee at the kitchen table and didn’t see the wooden leg. We sat down and shared some chocolate and became best friends. I can still taste that nice chocolate melting in my mouth after forty-eight years.

Have you ever encountered someone with a disability who scared you? We want to hear you….

Send your story at Stories@WomensExpressions.com . Your story can be the next featured article on the Women’s Expressions WEB Site!

See the sequence of this story – ‘In Memory of my Great-Grandparents (Part 2)’.

Story by Joanne
Edited by Karen C.

Written by

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