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March 2, 2014

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month: Who Was Your Favourite Relative?

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month:  Who Was Your Favourite Relative?
Ruth Simpson 1907
Sharing Memories is a series of weekly prompts to help all genealogists (including me!) with writing up memories of our ancestors and our childhood. 

We all love to find a diary or letters written by great grandma or grandpa where they talk about their lives and share their memories. Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about your memories and your stories! These stories will be lost after a few generations unless we preserve them. And what better way than in a weekly themed post. 

At the end of the year you will have 52 stories written about your childhood, your parents, grandparents and who knows what else.

If you write your own blog please use the hashtag #52SharingMemories if you are posting on Twitter or Google+  You can also  post your stories as comments on this blog post or in a private journal. It's your choice! The important thing is to write those memories down now! 

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month:  Who Was Your Favourite Relative?
I'm also posting this as part of my challenge for Women's History Month. See Women's History Month: A Challenge to Geneabloggers! for 10 suggestions for honouring women in March. I'm writing about Prompt #4: Write a biography of your favourite female Ancestor. Be sure to tell us why she's your favourite
Hands down it was my Grandma Bates. I think of her as Grandma Ruth but we never used her first name. Grandma was fun and lively and loved the colour red. She often wore a red pantsuit with a white blouse or a red skirt and white blouse and she always wore her ruby ring. That ring is now mine and I wrote about it coming back to me on Grandma's Ruby Ring

Born in Ramsgate Kent England in 1894 to parents David George Simpson and Sarah Jane Stead, Grandma was a sickly child and spent a lot of her days in bed only able to peek out her bedroom window.  Her family called her Dolly because she was so tiny and cute. 

Miss Mulligan's Dance Classes. Ruth is back row center
She didn't attend school when she was supposed to, being to ill to begin. But eventually she did go to the Ellington School in Ramsgate. I have pictures of her in her dance classes at the school.  

Simpson Family ca 1900
Grandma is 2nd from left
She suffered from rickets and in later life had a little twitch which I thought was quite endearing! She would have a genteel sniff and tiny twitch of her head as she was talking. 

She and my mom did not get along, and they fought constantly. Grandma was rather delicate and could become quite frightened or upset very easily. The wind bothered her and she would become very agitated on windy days. She was terrified of water and when I would visit her when I was in school she would only allow me a few inches of water in the bathtub in case I drowned. 

Her husbands adored her! She was their little princess and had them wrapped around her little finger. She married three times, and outlived all of her husbands. They waited on her hand and foot and never seemed to mind her idiosyncracies. 

I loved listening to her stories of her life in Ramsgate and about her siblings and parents. In fact she was the reason I became so fascinated with family history and stories at a young age. 

Ruth and daughters Lillian (left) & Joan (right)
Guelph ca 1918
Grandma's dad was a coal dealer, an epileptic who was often under the weather recovering from a seizure. Her mother, who Grandma said was a wonderful cook, ran a boarding house to make extra money for the family. 

In 1913 at the age of 19 Grandma sailed for Canada with her fiance Charles Fuller. They were joining her older brother Ern in Toronto Ontario and would make Canada their new home. Grandma never recovered from the terror of that sea voyage. Years later when she was in a home and near death she would tell me how much she longed to see her mother again and in a shaky voice ask me repeatedly "Do we have to go by boat?" At that point she could not remember that her mother was long gone. 

Grandma and her husband Charles settled in Guelph Ontario where they raised a family of 3 girls, including my mother. After Charles died, Grandma married a man who was hired as a guard at the DIL Munitions Factory in Ajax Ontario during WW2 so Grandma also took a job there. 

My mother followed suit and also moved to Ajax with her sister and their 4 children while their husbands were overseas in WW2. Mother also worked at the Munitions Factory during the war. Grandma didn't build bombs, instead she worked in the Cafeteria at the plant. Grandma was a bit unusual for her time as she almost always had a job of some sort. Her first husband bought her a Tobacco Store beside the Movie Theater in Guelph so that she would have something to keep her occupied. After working in the Munitions Factory during WW2, she moved back to Guelph and took a job at a large department store. She worked behind the counter of the women's dress and glove department and she loved it.

Fuller family in Guelph 1923
Baby Eileen, Ruth, Charles,
my mother Joan seated & Lily standing
Grandma was the person I went to when my mom and I would fight. As a teenager I'd take the bus to Guelph (where she lived with her third husband) and spend a few days with her sharing my frustrations and anger. It was very sad to see her later in her life as the aging process took its toll. 

My family have always told me I am just like Grandma Ruth. My mother told me that's why she and I didn't get along because I was, in her words, "...just like my mother!" 

Here's the odd bit - Grandma married 3 times. So did I. Grandma was 47 when she was widowed. So was I. 

Grandma ended up living with my widowed mother and another widowed daughter but that was quite stressful for all concerned as she and my mother could not go more than an hour without arguing. 

Eventually she had to be moved to a home in Owen Sound where she became increasingly confused and frightened. It was very difficult to visit her and see how far she had slipped from reality. She died in 1985 at the age of 90 and I remind myself she had a good long life and was loved by many. But I miss her.


Celia Lewis said...

What a wonderful story, Lorine. An amazing woman with great personality - and very pretty - the photos are marvellous. (you're just like her, eh?!) Live well and long!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Thanks Celia, I think she was amazing but I know there were many in my family who found her "difficult" !!

I thought she was lively and happy and very enchanting.