The Wild About Books blog has clearly gotten off task these last couple of posts, but there sure were numerous views, visitors and comments with my rambling about daily life in Montana. I would like to thank Tom for being such a good sport and assure everyone, including Tom’s girlfriend, that the flirting in Darby is all innocent fun. The mission of this blog is to be a seriously great resource for book lovers. I digressed.
The January Book selection as stated in the first blog of this month is, “Orphan Train”. I just finished and this is a wonderful book with very good writing and an intriguing story line. It took me a few pages to get into it and then I had a hard time putting it down. I recommend this book and believe that you will enjoy it too.
“Orphan Train” has opened up a door for me that I was unaware had been closed. My maternal grandmother was raised in an orphanage in the same time frame as this book and reading it has me asking many questions about her. Pauline Stanley Wright died a tragic death when I was 3 months old so I never really knew her. Perhaps this unknown story of my grandmother is even more interesting to me now that I am almost the age she was when she died and my daughter is the age my mom was when she lost her mother. I know from the few stories I’ve heard that she was loved by all. I also know that when I watch the relationships between a granddaughter and her maternal grandmother that I have missed out on what appears to be a key relationship in our lives. Granddaughters seem to be more patient and accepting than daughters and not as sensitive to the comments from the grandmother. Where a daughter will take a comment from her mother as criticism, a granddaughter will take it as wisdom and carry it with her. When I watch my daughter sit with my mom and teach mom how to use her new iPad or help her with her facebook page I know that I was robbed of a special relationship with my grandmother. Then I feel selfish when I think of my own mom, who had just turned 24, and lost her mother.
My mom told me stories about her mother as I was growing up. Some stick, most don’t and now I’m craving the details. How did Pauline and her brother Robert end up in an orphanage? What happened to their mother Roxie? How did anyone survive hardships 100 years ago? In the “Orphan Train” they shipped the orphans out west and put them to work, free labor. I wonder how people today can complain about “our economy” when they read books or hear the stories from this time frame of the early 1900’s. I asked my mom to start emailing me stories about her mom. I’ve also asked my Uncle’s and cousins for information as well. This is the door that has been closed. Untold stories suppressed. Due to the tragic death no one in the family talks about it. The story hoovering over us like a bad dream that we don’t want to re-live. Is it possible to create some family healing through story telling?
One story I remember is that every Christmas at my grandmother’s
orphanage all of the children would get an orange. They were so excited to get an orange that they ate the whole thing, peel and all. Another story I remember and still play in my head is that my mom was in a state of shock after her mother’s death. In a trance. Shut down from the world. Then the baby would cry. And a voice would tell her; “you’ve got to take care of the baby”. I believe that my orphan grandmother has been looking out for me ever since. It’s about time I got to know the story of my guardian angel.
One of the theme’s or lesson’s learned in “Orphan Train” is that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps you get fired or you’re having a difficult relationship with a co-worker. In order to get through difficult times you have to remind yourself that everything happens for a reason. I believe this and make it through life preaching this, but deep down, I doubt it. I can never come up with a reason for my grandmother’s young, preventable, and horrendous death.
One thought on “Orphans”
I am glad that you doubt your philosopy of everything happens for a reason, because my belief is “shit happens”. What you wrote was beautiful and heart wrenching to me, but I loved it. I thought about my mom alot while reading “Orphan Train”. I hope that Mother did not suffer some of the humiliations those two girls did. I think the book was about the strength that kept the two going. My mother was strong and also the most loving person I have ever known. She was also funny! Her life was more than the bad parts
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