Meeting Great-Grandma

Playing Ancestral Roulette for Saturday Night Genealogical Fun (SNGF) this week got me thinking about great-grandmothers – that is, about meeting your great-grandmother.  When I was in high school, my friend told me how lucky I was that both of my grandmothers were still living – he never knew any of his grandparents since they died before he was born.  My own father only met one grandparent, his paternal grandfather, but he died when my dad was six years old.

Sometimes longevity, child-bearing, and luck kicks in and a child’s life overlaps with that of their great-grandparent’s.  I realized that we seem to have a streak running in my own family for four generations.  The overlap was too short for the child to remember the meeting, but one can only imagine how special it must have been for the great-grandmother to hold their grandchild’s child.  I’m not able to see if this streak goes back more than four generations as I do not have all of the death dates for all of my ancestors.  For now, it applies to four generations born in the United States:

  • My grandfather, Henry M. Pater, was 2 when his great-grandmother Francziska Anna Wojciechowska Pluta died in 1914 at the age of 74.
  • My mother, Anita Pater Pointkouski, was almost 3 when her great-grandmother Antonina Rozalia Pluta Pater died in 1938 at the age of 75.
  • I was 5 when my great-grandmother Elizabeth Miller Pater died in 1972 at the age of 80.  She died on my brother’s 13th birthday.
  • My niece was 2 when her great-grandmother Margaret Hermina Bergmeister Pointkouski died in 1998 at the age of 84.

Ava meeting Pearl, 2005.

I’m always impressed with family photographs of multiple generations.  I have no photographs of any of the above children with their great-grandmothers.  But I do have one of my younger niece.  Although she was born long after my grandmothers had died, she had one great-grandmother from her mother’s side (she died at the age of 89 when my niece was almost 2).  Although I wasn’t present when this photo was taken, I do have a fond memory of another time when these two ladies met.  My niece’s great-grandmother could not see very well, but she got close to my niece and talked softly to her.  My niece was smiling; her great-grandmother was beaming.  Although we were all to young to remember meeting our great-grandmothers, I often think of this woman’s smile as she held my baby niece.  And I know it’s the same smile, and the same love, that all the great-grandmothers before her gave to their great-grandchildren.

Did you meet your great-grandmother?

8 thoughts on “Meeting Great-Grandma

  1. Loved this post, Donna. I met only one of my great-grandmothers. She was my mother’s grandmother on her mother’s side of the family. By the time I met her she was sickly and didn’t seem to enjoy children very much. I often wonder if she had cancer or some other lingering disease that we didn’t know about that kept her from this interaction with the little ones in the family.

    Also liked your post in response to Randy’s Saturday Night Ancestral Roulette!

  2. I had only one grandparent, a grandmother who died when I was 6, and I never knew any great-grandparents. On the plus side, of my 5 grandchildren, 4 met and remember my mother who was their great-grandmother, and they all know my mother-in-law, who is still living.

    I am hoping to meet some or all of my great-grandchildren, but time will tell if that wish is fulfilled.

  3. I was very fortunate as my great-grandmother Wellhausen was well known to me. She was my paternal grandmother’s mother and we lived in the same vicinity. I can remember her babysitting for myself and my brother when our parents would go out for the evening. She lived with my great-aunt and I was around her a lot. When I was about 10 I learned to knit and I was busy making cable stitch hats and trying to sell them to the relatives for 50 cents each. I can remember Great Grandma buying one though I doubt she ever wore it. She didn’t pass away until I was 16 so I have many memories of her.

  4. I was able to visit with both of my grandmothers when I was growing up, but both of my grandfathers died before I was born. But the thing that really kills me is that my great-grandmother who is my great brick wall – Susan Elizabeth Smith Brinlee – did not die until I was four years old. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet her.

  5. Interesting post, Donna. Both of my Dad’s parents were deceased when I was born but I knew Mom’s parents quite well.

    One of my great-grandfathers and all four of my great-grandmother’s were living when I was born! And, they all lived within a few miles of where we lived. I know that we “met” but I really didn’t know them and don’t have any memory of them (other than what I’ve been told or learned through research). Depending upon when they died I would have been between the age of two and ten…

  6. I was lucky enough to have one entire set of great-grandparents when I was born. My O’Hara side great-grandparents died when I was about 4, and I have some (vague) memories of visiting them. I also had a full complement of grandparents when I was born, and still have two – who I have the pleasure of watching with their great-grandkids, my cousin’s children.

  7. While I don’t remember great grandpa Harry I do have a group picture with us both. He was actually my grandfather’s, step-father and by all accounts a wonderful man. My maternal grandfather died when I was a month old but I did know my other three grandparents.

    On my ex’s side, my children met their gr-great-grandmother. My grandchildren’s gr-great-grandmother is still living and I wish my kids would take their kids to visit her more often.

  8. Growing up, I had all four of my grandparents and even a set of great grandparents. My great grandmother was alive until I became a young adult. I have a 5 generation picture, all women, directly descended through my lovely great grandmother and ending with my eldest daughter. I treasure it.

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