Mom seemed a paradox. She was very self-conscious, but could be a real clown. She was very creative and intelligent, but constantly called herself stupid. She was nice looking, yet thought she was ugly. She had a good singing voice, but would clam up if anyone outside the family heard her. She could be jocular or angry and it didn’t take much to bring either side to the fore.
Mom learned as a young child, when “Papa” died, that he was not her father. Grandma Alma had to go to work as a cook and Mom’s half sibs went to the Masonic Orphanage, but little Constance went to a different orphanage. She didn’t learn until much later in life that she’d been sired by an employer of Alma’s. Connie was born at a home for unwed mothers across the state. When Papa married Alma, he had children that were her age and they inherited his property.
Photos show young Connie as a pretty girl, but a bicycle accident on a cracked sidewalk broke her nose and the inability to afford braces for her teeth only made her self-image worse. Her early teens were spent in a Catholic convent/boarding school, where she learned fine embroidery, but not the employable skills Grandma thought she’d learn. When she didn’t qualify for the factory job Alma had arranged for her at 16, she found work as governess for the children of a respected minister.
At twenty-one, she eloped with a man, who then gave in to parental pressure and had the marriage annulled. Connie didn’t tell him that, while on their “honeymoon,” she had become pregnant.
The minister could not employ an unmarried pregnant woman, so Connie had to stay with her younger sister and her new husband. While there, she was introduced to my Dad by a neighbor lady. Dad proposed to her as she was washing diapers. They were together through the Depression and separated only by the War, until his death nearly 25 years later. She had four children, three fathered by Dad, and nine grandchildren. She died at 88 and is buried next to him.
Mom Spent most of her life in the St. Louis area, but during the Depression had gone with Dad to Arkansas and New Mexico as he sought employment. After I came to California, Sunny married and our sister, Jackie, asked Mom to move to Nashville, Tennessee and help her with her four (then six) children. Mom stayed there for ten years and loved that period, but when Sunny and his wife divorced Mom moved back North to housekeep for him. When her senile dementia progressed to where he could not give her enough of the assistance she needed, Marcia took her until Mom needed to be in a nursing home. She lived there for a while before the sadly typical broken hip and a later sickness and infection took her.