Paint a picture with words, capture someone on film, sketch a face in the crowd — this week, share a portrait.
Eva Sophronia Gordon born 1891. Married William Junius Palmer January 1919. First child Stanley born September 1919 died of Polio. Daughters Helen, Thelma and Eva all Lived. Eva’s twin William born 1922 also died of polio. Her last child my Father Edward Gordon Palmer was born 1930. He was the only boy to survive. His nickname was Precious.
I often wonder how my grandmother coped with losing two of her children but I suppose in those days there was little time to grieve plus eventually other children to care for. My Grandmother was a member of Mother Zion A.M.E. church so I’m sure that gave her comfort.
My Grandmother Eva was my Grandfather’s second wife. His first wife died and he needed a wife to care for him plus his first set of kids. My Grandmother needed a husband so as the story goes it was arranged for my Grandmother to cook my Grand Dad a meal. Must have been a good meal because they got married and stayed married until the early 1960s when they passed away.
Funerals tend to present you with unexpected family information on or about people you never knew existed. In May 1995 when my father Edward G. Palmer passed away I encountered some cousins I never knew I had. What shocked me was the man telling me that we were related was a tall white guy with blue eyes!! Then the stories of my Grandfather’s first wife began to make sense and the reason why he had a sudden departure from Petersburg, VA. His first wife was white! All during my childhood I had heard how my grandparents took in these kids, white kids but as I grew up that made no sense. Jim Crow was the law of the land and Miscegenation (whites marrying Blacks and vice versa) was a crime (Miscegenation Law was not abolished until 1968). I suppose my grandparents had to come up with some kind of story so that’s the tale I was told. It also explains why he never discussed his childhood or young adult years with my Dad. Some things are better left unsaid.
My Grandfather died when I was very young so I have no memory of him and very little of my Grandmother. I was around five or six when she passed away so my memories of her are faded, distant and dim but I always try to hang onto our trips into Harlem to visit her. This has imprinted on my mind. When I think back I can still see her apartment and envision the living room, kitchen one of the bedrooms and some of her furnishings. It’s very important to keep those Memory Portraits fresh in ones mind.
Again in 2010 when the last of the Greatest Generation my Aunt Helen Palmer Garcia made her passage to the other side I met more of these “hidden” cousins. Unfortunately even though at that time I exchanged information with them we have not stayed in touch and I moved in 2012 so it would be difficult for me to find them or them to find me.
As we gathered in Aunt Helen’s church for the repast someone took a photo of our Rainbow Family but like everything else on my hard drive it has decided to hide. When you see my relatives we truly are a mixed race mosaic of America.
Memory Lane – Minnie Riperton
BILL WITHERS GRANDMA’S HANDS