Viola Schwendiman Romney Talbot Thomas (or Nama as we called her) is larger than life in my family history. I've written about her here before. Perhaps it is because she is straight up my matriarchal line, or perhaps it is because she had such a dramatic life, perhaps it is because she is the great-grandparent I knew the best or perhaps it is because she had many similar life experiences to mine, I feel very connected to her. I've felt even more connected to her lately. I've added the following photos to my desk last week, to help me feel her strength in this challenging pandemic time.
I've been reading the history my mother wrote about Nama again with adult eyes. Eyes who have been through alot more of life's messiness than the last time I approached her story. I remember my mother interviewing Nama for this history on her porch when I was probably about 8 years old. I was mesmerized with Nama's story telling and the amazing life she had. But I never saw the depth of what she went through until recently.
Last week, my mother and I took a little trip to see the houses where this part of my family history played out. This house in particular was so moving to me.
|Whittier Church, site of one of Douglas' funerals|
|Yale Church, site of one of Douglas' funerals|
When Gifford Talbot, her second husband came along, it seemed that he could help her get out of all the problems she was dealing with. Beyond all the other issues she faced, she also had the husband of one of her friends trying to marry her. She said in her history that "I would have never married him in this world or the next, I don't think." But she married him after only knowing him for three weeks. Her step mother-in-law fainted when she told her, and she only told her parents afterward. He was good to her and her children and my grandmother adored her step-father.
|Apartment building where Nama again heard the devastating |
news that her second husband had unexpectedly died.
My mother said that she remembers Nama always saying that she "needed a Miltown." Nama was always anxious that something else hard was coming her way and I really understand why. When you go through something so shattering, out of your control and unexpected at a young age, it gives you an unsettling fear about what is coming around the corner. I have a similar fear from similar circumstances but I'm working to deal with that in more constructive ways. I also am thankful for more of a support system than Nama had. She went on to have a happy life and worked through everything to be wildly successful in business. I'm working on creating that strength too.
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