I have posted before about how thankful I am for all of my ancestors whether I knew personally them or not. I believe their experiences helped me be the person I am today. But today I am especially thankful for my Grandma Mabel Tracy Gotcher because it was her birthday. I remember her birthday, September 6th, because when I was 19 my best friend and I took a road trip to go visit my grandma and during that visit we discovered that Grandma and Debi had the same birthday. Now I always think about grandma when I am wishing Debi a Happy Birthday! Grandma has been gone for over 14 years but I still remember her well.
Grandma Gotcher is the main reason genealogy is such an obsession for me. She was my bridge to the past. You see, Grandma was born in 1904 and raised in a large family on a large family farm. Grandma lived at home and didn’t get married until she was 34 and she didn’t give birth to my dad (and his twin sister) until she was 45.
She ended up inheriting the family
homestead house and furniture and pictures. In my memories she was always this vibrant older grandma surrounded by curious antiques. She had wonderful stories and pictures and she also loved to play croquet with us. The house had never been updated – no indoor plumbing for example. Everything was old and therefore, to me, interesting. I loved to hear about her adventures with her friends and about all the years she spent as a one room school teacher. We both loved to read and she introduced me to some wonderful authors; Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Willa Cather, and Bess Streeter Aldrich to name a few. As kids we spent alot of our time while at her farm outside playing – in the cornfields, in the draw (where I discovered leeches), and in the old barns. I thought it was a little slice of heaven. I grew up in the city so for me the farm life looked very romantic. It’s funny because now my son can’t wait to visit my Aunts and Uncles in Iowa because they live on a farm with tractors and all! And I totally understand his excitement.
In the past few years as I have been researching grandma’s history, her life seems even more amazing to me. Imagine being born in 1904 and living through all of the history that she lived through: World Wars I & II, the depression, all the nifty inventions we take for granted today, and so many other things. She loved to take pictures which was a huge blessing to her grandchildren and she saved everything which was even better for us history buffs. I treasure the old schoolbooks, papers, letters, and school bell I inherited from her. But most of all I treasure the time she spent introducing me, through her pictures and stories, to her childhood, her family, and her pioneer history.
All of her grandchildren remember different things about what we loved about Grandma but we all know she loved each of us and that she was really something special! Happy Birthday Grandma I know you are having a great time in heaven!