Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Traditions Continued by Margo Hoornstra

In my last post here, I talked about how my son and grandson value the idea of family traditions and are each doing their part to preserve them. My grandson through genealogy research of the past, my son through taking charge of plans for a family reunion  in the future.

Add to my family endeavors lately, a cousin who was going through abdominal surgery. Everything went well, better than well, and she's doing fine by the way. But, back to my point. In the course of helping to see her through this, we talked some about our family and a little about family history. Specifically, the grandmother we both shared.

Mimi was a loving and kind and caring and compassionate woman. She was devoted to our family. My grandfather, her two daughters and four grandchildren. She was a true lady in every sense of the word.  Like me, Mimi didn't cook much, as I recall.  Holidays and family gatherings at her house were not so much focused on food, but about being together, about sharing each other's company. Every chance I got, I would do sleepovers at her house. The times I spent being at her house, with her, are some of my favorite childhood memories.

One day I remember she was looking through the paper and made the comment that she had just read that one of her brothers had died. I had met one of her sisters she was close to, but never knew she had a brother. It wasn't until I was much older, and Mimi was gone, that I learned why.

My grandma was eighteen and my grandpa twenty-four when they, horror of horrors at the time, conceived a child out of wedlock, my mother. According to some of the family records my grandson has discovered, they were married in February, my mother was born in July. Her birth certificate had 'illegitimate' stamped across it. An unfortunate stigma she was forced to live with. My sweet, caring, loving, giving grandmother, as it turns out, was disowned by her family. Because she fell in love and had a child.

There's a story in there somewhere. One I do plan to tell someday. Which brings me to a little bit about one I have already told.

My first book Honorable Intentions has to do with an out of wedlock child. That didn't stop my hero, Chase Canfield, from being a loving and devoted father.

“Her mother and I never married. I’m a little, no, a lot embarrassed to admit Lisa was the product of what turned out to be a one night stand.” Regret tinged his voice as he went on. “I was very young, and incredibly stupid, but I’m not one bit sorry she’s here. I didn’t even know I had a child for a couple of years. I met my daughter for the first time when she was almost three.” He didn’t wait for her response. “I had to fight for every moment with her. First, I obtained a court order to be able to submit to a paternity test. Then it was back to court to fight for visitation rights. Monica sure doesn’t make it easy.” He paused, lost in some private reflection. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw my little girl.” His voice was a mixture of pain bolstered by sturdy resolve. “Do you know what it’s like to look at your child for the first time and see fear, of you, reflected in their eyes?”

My favorite saying comes from a wise man sometimes known as Doctor Seuss. "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
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Leah St. James said...

How odd that your grandmother, who sounds like a wonderful lady, was stigmatized for something that is almost celebrated in today's culture (meaning out-of-wedlock births). And I thought "illegitimate" only applied if the parents weren't married at the time of the baby's birth. People can be so cruel. Yes, you need to tell that story.

Jannine Gallant said...

Sounds like your grandma didn't let it keep her down or turn her bitter. Apparently she was a stronger person than the parents who couldn't see past appearances. You'd have to turn your hand to historicals to write this story. Go you!

Barbara Edwards said...

I know her pain. I was sixteen and pregnant when I married. My mother insisted she'd watch the baby while I returned to finish my senior year of high school. One year of being ostracised by the entire school. One friend and one teacher talked to me. People can be cruel. Bless my Mom. I did it and now have a master's degree.

Margo Hoornstra said...


It is very sad that some people put too much stock in what others think. My grandmother was a wonderful lady. Thank you for saying it.

Margo Hoornstra said...


What nice things to say about my grandma. Come to think of it, you are absolutely right. Another thing you're right about. (Is this a new trend? LOL) Her story took place in the twenties. I think I could do it.

Margo Hoornstra said...


Sounds like you have one fabulous mother going there. Even in my day, which really isn't that far back (wince) there was an unfair stigma attached to out of wedlock births. Man how times have changed!

Diane Burton said...

I love the Dr. Seuss quote you ended your post with. I'll bet your grandmother believed that, too. You definitely need to write your grandma's story.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Diane, I do need to write that, don't I? It's going to be pretty emotional for me, I'm sure. Just so you know. ;-)

Alicia Dean said...

Oh wow, that was a pretty big no no back in the day. But what a shame your grandmother was disowned. Her family are the ones who missed out. Interesting story!