Monday, February 08, 2010

Whose Valentine Was She?

This is picture of my mom back in 1941. She was 22 years old. It would have been the year before she started dating my dad. I'm thinking her Valentine back then might have been Mike...

[From "A Gift of Memories From Grandma"] Who is the boy you remember most? "Mike. I went out with him for 2 years. He was not Catholic. My dad objected. After I was married my dad saw him a few times. He thought Mike was the greatest guy, but I never saw him again." ~ Lucy

It's amazing what a grandparent will share with a grandchild.

I know I asked my mom about her boyfriends back when I was a kid but she'd always give me an evasive answer. "Oh, I dated lots of fellas but I wasn't serious about any of them.", was her favorite response.

Then when my kids were in grade school I bought 3 of those "Grandparent Books". You know the kind, they look like a glorified pamphlet with a couple questions on each page and a half dozen blank lines squeezed together for a response. My mom filled out one, as did my mother in law. I gave one to my father in law too but I guess he wasn't interested. He never filled his out.

Anyway, my mom filled hers out almost completely and gave it back to me. I remember looking through it briefly at the time, thinking, "she never told me that!" over and over again.  Then I filed it away. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to ask her about Mike back then but it didn't. After my mom died, in April 2007, I came across that book again. I read every page and was amazed at how much she'd shared with my kids that she had never shared with me.

If my mom had any photos of Mike, she never showed them to me. But then, my mom kept her share of secrets. She was quick to clam up when she didn't want to answer a question or she would reply, "Never you mind". One day when my brother went over to visit her he found her in the basement burning what looked like photos or documents in the wash basin. When he asked her what she was doing she replied, "Just getting rid of some things", and changed the subject. She liked her secrets.

My parents had a troubled relationship, which is another way of saying my mother was the victim of my father's physical abuse. I'm sure my grandparents must have known my mom was not happy in her marriage. I can't help but wonder if my grandfather ever regretted that he kept his daughter from marrying such an upstanding guy as Mike. Oh what I wouldn't give to know Mike's last name so I could look him up and see what ever became of him. But that's another of the secrets my mom took to the grave with her.

As Valentine's Day rolls around I'll be thinking about my mom and wondering, "Whose Valentine was she in 1941..."

Written for the Smile for the Camera carnival, February 14, 2010.


  1. Did you colorize your Mom's photo? I think all the photos I have from that time black and white. I determined some of my Mom's old boyfriends from her old yearbooks and the messages they wrote. I never knew she dated a fellow that was a friend of our family for years after marriage until I read his yearbook message.

  2. I didn't colorize the photo. It was hand painted by the portrait studio I believe. Although I did do some color enhancing to bring the colors up a bit. The photo was awfully faded.

    I thought of the yearbook idea too! I have my mom's yearbook and loads of people signed it... I think everyone in her class. Unfortunately that's all they did was sign it. It has signatures only, not one single comment to hint at who Mike might be. :-(

  3. Jasia, oh, Jasia,

    That was a lovely story -- what was, what might have been --- and a lovely young woman. I especially loved the connection between grandmother and granddaughter. Splendid!

  4. Jasia, thank you sharing another great story! My mother had a few boyfriends before she married my father and I often wonder what if??? Who was her first love, who did she share her first kiss with? Mom rarely talked about her childhood so I may never know.
    I always love the pages you create for so many of your photographs. Happy Valentine's day friend!

  5. A wonderful story; I'm so glad you shared it with us. These mysteries are so intriguing. The boyfriend of my mother whose identity I would like to learn was the one involved in the story often told by her and her siblings: It seems that she and her next younger sister looked so much alike that they were able to fool one particular boy into thinking that it was the other sister who had shown up for a date with him...

  6. Thank you all for your lovely comments. How I wish I had been more persistant in asking questions of my mom. Mostly she was happy to talk about her life but some of the things most interesting to me as a young woman were the very things she didn't want to talk about. And here I am years later still wondering. I guess I should keep that in mind when I get around to writing up my memoirs, eh? (Don't forget to name names ;-) So far my kids have shown no interest in my life before they were born but maybe one of these days they will...

  7. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing with others!

  8. Thank you, this was a great story!! "She liked her secrets" really resonated with me - I have relatives just like that.

  9. It's sad that your mom lived with an abusive husband, but if she hadn't married him, you wouldn't be here! It would be too fun to find you who your mom's friends were when this photo was taken and see if they remember who she was dating.... Lots of work to do that. Thanks for sharing the photo and the story.
    Nancy from My Ancestors and Me

  10. Enjoyed your story and the scrapbooking of your mom's picture is beautiful. Thanks

  11. A beautiful Valentine! I'm sorry you never got to ask your Mom about Mike. I guess living in a large city that the 1940 census won't help. My mother revealed much with one of those little books too.