It's been fascinating to see Mom's take on family history ... it would be better to say "hear" Mom's take, because I can hear her voice in every word. I've got copies of her letters and any letters sent to her by family.
I'm glad Mom could type on the electric typewriter, and kept carbon copies (Google it, kids). It makes me very sad that my paternal grandfather had such poor handwriting that it took me five minutes to work out that he had chastised Jerry for his "SEX affair." (And watch the sex affairs, kids, fifty years later your children will out you on their blogs.) Mom was pretty convinced Jerry's love affair - sorry, Grandpa, SEX affair - was chaste until they were separated. I think that's probably true, just from some of the nuances. Of course, once they split up no one waited for the divorce on either side. I think the last letter between Mom and Jerry's parents was the one in which she announces she's getting remarried four months after the divorce.
There are some things that Mom had the good grace to white out from her later letters. It would seem her early opinion of Gary was not one of whole-hearted support. (Easy enough to read through the white-out if you hold it up to a light.) It's okay, he grew on her, "weird" and "unreliable" though he was. (And is.)
Every month when I go and cash in the thirty year old Series EE bonds, I worry why they had an extra $200 to invest in bonds right after I got married. Did I cost that much money? Come to find out, Mom got a raise and promotion, and they invested the raise. So that eases my mind.
And there are tiny little mysteries revealed. For example, why are there only a few photos of me as a child? I started to notice a theme in her letters. "Dressed Ellen in her green smocked dress for her grandparent's visit." Yes, that tracks with one of the six photos I have. There I am, next to the grandparents, in a smocked dress. Six photos. How much did film cost? Seriously? Was it like getting an oil painting? And then ... "I am sending you this photo of the kids at Christmas. Please return it since it is our only copy and our camera is broken." Well! There you go! The camera broke. And Mom trusted the existing photos to the U.S. Mail and soon-to-be-estranged relatives. No wonder there are only six photos of me in Houston.
And finally, it has been revealed whose bladder I inherited. My paternal grandmother must have been my age when she was writing Mom after the divorce and the woman has a bladder infection every other letter, when she isn't suffering from a kidney infection. I don't know what she was doing to get her bladder infections, given that her husband was coughing up blood from lung cancer at the time.
I'm only a tiny portion of the way throuh the box. Next up, my letters to Mom.