She grew up on a black dirt farm in a house with no indoor plumbing. Oh, like most farm houses in the late 40s and early 50s there was a bathtub and sink with running water, but other needs were taken car of outside in a little wooden house.
Her family didn’t own the farm, but worked the land for the owner – can we say 20th Century share-cropping. They had a small garden, chicken coup and hog pen for their own use, but the land was worked for the owner. I am not sure, but perhaps they worked the land in exchange for the house … no rent exchanging hands and the only utilities being electricity and a propane tank to keep filled for heat and cooking. Try as I might, I can’t remember fireplaces in the house.
Josephine’s mother was my grandmother’s sister, my aunt and made her my cousin. She detested her name and we called her Josie except for her father.
I am not sure if my grandmother and Josie’s mother finished high school … I do know my grandmother was a center on her high school basketball team … a fact that shocked and impressed me when she told me about her teenage years. My family never talked about the past … either side of my family. My aunt worked for a large hospital in the area as a ‘vampire’ as she called herself. Her job was in the blood bank and lab drawing blood for patient testing and helping with donations.
Now, Josie’s father always creeped me out. I wasn’t afraid of him but his presence made my perv radar go into overdrive. During his final years, he was confined to an in home hospital bed, tethered to an oxygen tank as he struggled to breathe. I didn’t know if he had COPD, emphysema, or lung cancer – regardless of the cause of his stressed out lungs any of those are a horrible way to die.
Josie was a good 10 years older than be and despite her less than perfect home-life, she was an excellent student and a killer basketball player back when girls played half-court basketball. Rumor had it the team always tried to get her ‘Irish’ up before a game because she was unbeatable in her anger. Scholarships were offered Josie for both academics and athletics. In those days and for girls these wouldn’t even pay for a semester so college was never going to be a reality. During that time, grants and loans were not available for deserving students with no means to pay for a college education.
Josie married young … a soldier and had a nice family. They struggled as most young couples their age did, yet were able to live a rung or two higher than her growing up years. They raised two boys who went on to very successful lives. She had successes of her own in a couple of different careers despite only having a high school education. Her young soldier became a firefighter and their lives continued to improve.
I always looked up to her and as a young child was thankful that my life though not perfect was not the difficult one she lived. We are both products of our background. Adversities and struggles made us who we are — life either makes us or breaks us — we ultimately make the choice. She was strong because of her background … as was my mother who grew up much like Josie but never achieved a high school diploma.
I am thankful for all the strong determined women in my life … mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins. From them, I always knew I could do or be anything I wanted. For me, college wasn’t an option rather an expectation. I was the first grandchild on my mother’s side to get a college degree and two masters.
In my life, there have been ups and downs, but y life has become what it was supposed to become and I still know even at my age I can do or be anything … anyone I want and I am not done yet!
Copyright © 2017 Annie
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie