The Old Welshman

Today marks the 109th anniversary of my grandmother’s birthday. She was my paternal grandmother and a woman with whom I spent a great deal of time. As a little boy I used to sit next to her and hold her hand as she would feed me chewing gum and nearly anything else I would ask for. When she was born on January 18th, 1898, her parents were so poor they couldn’t even afford a full sack of flour in their home. That was a point she continued to emphasize with me as I would sit with her. Her mother and father immigrated from Anglesey Island, North Wales in the United Kingdom. Neither of her parents spoke very good English and only my grandfather became a United States citizen. Grandma was the youngest of seven children. She was well educated for her generation having graduated from 8th grade. Two of her own children would graduate from post-secondary institutions and both of her sons served in the United States military during World War II. She was married at 17 and widowed at 77. She had a full life and was a good as gold to me. At a time in my own life nearly thirty years ago when I was temporarily unable to work, she took me in and gave me a home. She sacrificed part of her retirement income from the government so that I could live with her. As I regained my health I continued to live with her and the bond that began as an infant was cemented even further as a young adult. She saw me fall in love, get married and have a family of my own and was a part of the early development of our children. She taught her great-grandson the same Welsh words and phrases that she had taught me and a bond was formed between her and our children that still exists. It is cold here today as it must have been in January 1898. Much has changed in our world since then. She died in 1989 just shy of her 92nd birthday. I still think of her with love and gratitude especially on this day and in the spring of the year, her favorite season, when the little blue flowers that she called Veronica bloom in our lawns around here. Happy birthday Grandma.

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