My mom's dad died when she was 14. Grandma Mary remarried quickly because in 1929, a woman alone did not run a business. Grandma Mary was born in (then) Yugoslavia. There are so many questions I would ask both my parents if they were here today, details I didn't realize would be interesting or important when they died in 1978 (my dad) and 1983 (mom). Mom's parents were born in Serbia and Croatia but met and married in Detroit. Her only sibling, a sister, died in infancy when my mom was six (I think). With dad being the baby of his family, there is no one left to ask some of the questions I think only their generation would know.
Mom's stepdad was a horrible man. He beat my grandmother and she feared he would beat or sexually assault my mom. Grandma would wake my mom up in the middle of the night and press money into her hand to take the streetcar to her aunt's house. Two years after marrying him, my grandmother was granted a divorce. This was not common in 1932.
I don't know how long after that grandma and her sister closed the dry cleaners/tailor shop, but it was there that my parents met. They married in 1935 but I don't know how long they dated. So many questions....
The beatings at the hands of her second husband took a toll on Grandma Mary. Whether it was all psychological or if her brain was actually bruised and altered, her opinion of men after her second marriage was lower than low. She trusted none of them, not even my father who held my mother in highest regard and supported his mother-in-law as best he could. While staying with my parents, she became delusional one night and attempted to get to my dad in his bedroom, armed with a butcher knife, intent on killing him. I was 22 and engaged before I heard that story. The marks were still visible on the bedroom door despite being filled in, sanded and painted over the years.
From my paternal grandparents I got my love of roots. My home is HOME in all caps. From Grandma Mary I got my love of travel, but I always, always, always need to come home. Home to this house, to be near my sons, Bill's brother's family (two generations) that are all nearby, and to my friends and neighbors.
I don't remember ever hugging my grandparents. I'm sure we kissed goodbye, but I don't remember any tickles, any fun secrets, anything that made me miss them after we parted. They were strangers to a shy child they didn't really know.
Fortunately my parents taught me that grandparenting didn't have to be that way. Dad died six short months after my older son was born, but he had such fun plans for what they would do together. Mom died 5 years later. Arthritis limited what she could do physically but it didn't stop the sharing of love and cuddles. Her best friend, my godmother, was Grandma Laura to my sons from the time they were born until her passing in 1999.