My Beginning

by Diane

My mother got pregnant with me after the death of her mother, three months before. The relationship between my father and my mother was probably based on my father’s strong sexual attraction to my mother, and by her need to fill the empty space in her life when her mother, the last surviving parent, died and the family split up.

My parents fought and argued from the beginning. Late in her life, in a conversation with me, my mother claimed my father forced himself on her, and that was how she became pregnant.

I was never told why my mother went to a home for unwed mothers while she waited for her baby to be born. My Aunt Bernice Widen, who was also pregnant and staying in the same home, told me my father came to visit her there, that Mother was quiet and reserved and kept to herself. My mother told me that my father did not want to marry her when he found out she was pregnant but changed his mind later on. She made arrangements with her stepbrother Gus, and his wife Charlotte, to adopt me. The papers and arrangements were made but in the end she could not do it. My uncle Barney, my fathers’ brother, came to get mother and I at the Swedish Hospital where I was born. My parents married about a month and a half after I was born.

Following my birth, my parents lived with my grandmother Christopher for several months, until my mother left and went to live with Ms. Alice R. Tracey, who was employed by the social services of the county to provide room and board to women. There were several retired Catholic nuns also living in Ms. Tracy’s house, as well as a younger woman named Mary. Mother left this living arrangement and returned to my father at some point during the first year of my life. I do not think they were actually in love with each other then, as they could not have known each other very well.

Throughout her childhood, my mother’s family was financially better off than my father’s, though this changed in the years following grandfather Charlie’s death. Charlie worked for Pillsbury Mills as a laborer, and also as a personal handyman to one of the top executives. He was able to save up and buy a home, and it was mortgage-free as of the 1910 Census. He also accumulated stocks, other real properties in the neighborhoods nearby, and land in the northern part of Minnesota. He supported five children in his first marriage until his wife died. After marrying my grandmother, they had four more children. He died approximately 10 years before my grandmother, Ellen. My mother was seventeen years old at the time. Also the countries’ economic situation was at the end of a depression and World War II had begun.