Sometimes, I felt badly for my mom. She got stuck between a couple dominating personalities and often sublimated her own.

But let’s go way back to the early part of the 20th century. My great-grandparents, Edward Yates and Lillian (nee Archer-pictured) had four children who lived past infancy: Gert, Ed, Ernie and Deana. Edward died by 1920. Gert fell in love with a guy named Clarence Williams, got married, and had a child, Gertie (my mom, who I’ll refer to as Trudy, because that’s what she later called herself.) Well, Lillian didn’t approve of Clarence, a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, for reasons not clear to me, and apparently drove him away. So my mother was raised by her grandmother, her mother and Aunt Deana. The primary male role model for her was Ed, since Ernie had gotten married and started raising a family. Lillian died c 1937, but by then the damage to Gert and Clarence’s relationship had been done, I gather.

Ed fought in World War II and everyone was proud of him. I remember seeing his picture in uniform on a mirror in the house Gert and Deana shared when I was growing up. But just as my grandmother stopped talking to another relative when he started having children with a woman without the benefit of matrimony, so too did she pretty much disown her brother Ed when he started living with this woman named Edna in the mid-1960s. And I suppose that was her right, though I found it sad. And peculiar too, since she wasn’t really that much of a religious person; I can tally on one hand the number of times she went to church while I was growing up.

What I found more painful, though, is that Gert requested/demanded that Trudy, who was an adult, to have nothing to do with Ed either, and she capitulated to that. I know that, except in passing – they lived only four blocks away – I never saw them.

Then, in 1970, we got a call to rush to the hospital; Ed was dying. We got there after he passed away; he was the first dead person I had ever seen not in a casket. My burning recollection is of Gert and Edna crying on each other’s shoulders at Ed’s funeral. Edna died within a couple years of Ed.
***
Want to read an uplifting tale of an Ed and Edna? Go HERE.

33 Responses to “E is for Ed and Edna”

  • I guess we all have some puzzling parts of our personal history that were/are hard to understand. Those can be particularly difficult when we lose a family member. Hope you have a good week, Roger!

    Sylvia
    ABC Team

  • Bonjour Roger,
    This is an interesting story about Ed and Edna, so sad about the funeral ( I was just imagining the scene…poor Edna!), and so on…
    I think we have all our “moments”and beliefs, and sometimes it’s difficult to accept.
    But it’s an EXERCISE that we all need to do.
    Love can change EVERYTHING for good in our lives!
    Take care my sweet friend,
    hugs
    Léia

  • A heartfelt and interesting story. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Jingle says:

    sweet E take, bless your mom.

  • Carver says:

    This was a fascinating, if sad, story. Families can be so complicated and at times defy explanation in terms of what they do to each other.

  • Two very poignant stories, Roger, this one and also the one about Ed and Edna.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  • VioletSky says:

    Family histories are often hard to untangle.
    Good to hear two sides of the (many-sided) story.

  • Sometimes families are meaner to their own family members than they are to neighbours or former friends.

  • photowannabe says:

    Its so sad the way families can change the course of each others history. I think its interesting you know so much about yours. I really don’t know much about mine. When things were unpleasant, no one talked about them.
    Hope you are doing better now. thinking of you.

  • Hildred says:

    Oh, families are such mysterious institutions full of sad stories of misunderstandings and estrangements, and yet the love never diminishes and we all cry at funerals.

  • Helen Mac says:

    The death of our mothers brings back so many family memories. Family pariahs are a curse for us all. I think we are living finally in a more tolerant world.
    Thank you for sharing the days of your mother’s death with all of us.

  • Joy says:

    Aren’t people a mystery, even those we know.

  • Martha says:

    Funny to both have an Ed and Edna story.
    (Now I know where the tag came from. :))

  • Tumblewords says:

    Families are a convoluted group made more difficult by thinking each individual will be somewhat like the others. A provocative read, to be sure.

  • Gigi Ann says:

    It is always a sad time when families have problems.

  • marina says:

    What a beautiful picture! and how nice it is that you have stories dating back to great grandparents [even if sometimes they are not pleasant]. I can only go back to my grandparents and know so little about them.
    My way to accept undecipherable behaviors, especially in elders, is to remind myself that each individual acts on the basis of what they have learned in their lifetime. Back then you did what you were thought without questioning anything…..
    Great post!

  • Kate says:

    Family history is important in forging our own identity. We’re much better off when we have the details, sometimes painful and hurtful but this knowledge is critical, I believe. Families are indeed complicated structures sometimes. You are fortunate in that you have many of the details of your own.

  • Serline says:

    A heart-wrenching story, family being kept apart by stubborn strong-willed personalities. Than again, society norms from those days are not entirely familiar to us…

  • Bev Baird says:

    Looking back at the past and seeing one’s ancestors so clearly does help the present. Have you written fully about their history?

  • Molokai Girl says:

    I wonder if they regretted the rift? My mother always said to live each moment as though they were your last and to not turn around and have regrets about thing never done or actions not taken. For, life is too short.
    Fascinating story and if I had to retell it, I would surely botch it up. Complicated, life is.

  • Nanka says:

    A moment of extraordinary poignancy and penetrative family reminiscences in pure simplicity.
    Wish you the very best!!

  • jabblog uk says:

    How very sad it is when moral indignation gets in the way of compassion. It’s sad also when the realisation comes that the rift was not worth the rage and hurt.

  • Sounds like a Shakespearean tragedy!

  • Gattina says:

    Family stories are sometimes hard to understand for us offsprings !

  • Francisca says:

    A bittersweet take on E day, Roger. Families are complicated and dynamic networks, cultures in and of themselves. I like to believe that we get a little more enlightened and tolerant with each generation, and so it is not really helpful to analyze past behaviors and motivations by today’s values. This applies to families as well as nations… We are each on our own path of learning.

  • Roger says:

    Bev-
    Still doing the genealogy thing.

  • Nonizamboni says:

    No family is spared drama and pain, is it? The history of these two dear ‘E’s was bittersweet. . .and I loved the photos!
    Nicely done today.

  • Starnitesky says:

    Interesting to know some of your family history even if it is sad.

  • dhemz says:

    very fascinating story Roger…thanks for sharing…so nostalgic!
    thanks for dropping by at my entry….great to be here!

  • Wanda says:

    Family history… I didn’t know until an adult visiting with a dying great uncle, that my grandfather had died in prison, and my Dad’s oldest sister, was only his half sister, a child born out of wedlock. Both my Dad and my Aunt were dead, so I guess my Great Uncle didn’t want to die without telling someone.

    Your stories are sad too, lots of misunderstandings…. but the photo is lovely. I’m glad you have that treasure.

  • Family politics/feuds are just sad and silly. But, people have to hold on to what they believe is right, I suppose. Peace and love, Roger.

  • Reader Wil says:

    Sad that in this short life of ours, we should ignore those who should be closest to us. Thank you for sharing this family history. The woman in the photo is very pretty.

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