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.
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?