From Youth to YOLO

The Interview I Didn’t Know I Needed

My Mom and I

Nana: Hello Hannah!

Hannah: Hello Nana!

Nana: How’re you doing?

Hannah: Good, how are you?

Nana: Pretty good. What’s going on?

Hannah: Nothing much, I’m just in between classes and actually in one of my classes, my English class, we’re doing a project where we interview someone in our family, so I was wondering if now would be a good time for me to interview you?

Nana: Not right this minute, I’m fixing Grandaddy some sausage.

Hannah: Ooh that sounds good!

Nana: If you could call back in maybe ten minutes?

Hannah: Okay!

Nana: Alrighty.

Hannah: I’ll talk to you then! Love you to infinity and beyond!

Nana: Love you to infinity and beyond-er beyond!

Me: Ah you got me! Bye.

So began and ended our interview, which couldn’t come to fruition because my grandparents’ already unreliable landlines had been further damaged by a recent storm. Many of my attempts to call back only resulted in a dial tone, while other tries involved Nana picking up the phone, but not being able to hear anything I was saying. I could tell she was getting frustrated with the whole situation, so I finally managed to tell her that I would call her in a couple of days when the phone situation was remedied. In the meantime, I needed to find someone else to interview. So, just like I always do when plans fall through and I need someone to bail me out, I turned to my mom. After explaining the situation and making sure she had time for the interview (“Hannah, I always have time for you!”), we began:

Hannah: Do you know anything like about any names that run in the family?

Mom: Well I know Julia is one, it is my grandmother’s name. It’s her mother’s name. Her mother’s name was Julia. I forget what her middle name was but she was Julia Roberts.

Hannah: Is there any like particular meaning behind it or reason?

Mom: Um, none that I know of. As far as family name? No

Hannah: What about your unusual name? Where does that come from?

Mom: That actually comes from my dad’s side of the family and it’s my dad’s mother’s… no my dad’s dad’s mother. It’s my great great grandmother. Her actual name was Maja Swanson and she was married to Andrew Siegfried, and when my mom was pregnant with me, they found a family bible that had those names in it, so they named me, the girl, Maja Swanson Anderson, and then they named my cousin, who was born in October after me, Andrew Siegfried Anderson, so we were named after the great great grandparents.

H: Gotcha. Do you know if they still have the family bible anywhere?

M: Um, if they do it would be with Aunt Mary Jo who is not willing to share things. She’s kind of… estranged from the family.

H: Gotcha. Um, what is the most distant, like, the most far back relative that you know?

M: That’s living? Or…

H: No, just like, I guess, just like how far back to you know about people, if that makes any sense?

M: Well I know about like my grandparetnts and their brothers and sisters and I know that my grandmother had a sister who was… her name was… lemme think, what was her name? Uh it’ll come to me in a minute. Anyway, she was actually in one of the concentration camps.

H: Really?

M: Yeah, and she had a really weird kind of habit like she had false teeth and she just clicked her teeth constantly and they think she was a nun and she was in one of the concentration camps and… Oh why can’t I remember her name? We have a picture of her on the wall at home. Umm it was Rose, Julia, Margaret- those were my dad’s mother’s sisters. I’m trying to think of her name… It’ll come to me later, I’ll probably have to call you and tell you later because I can’t think of it now. Anyway, she had been in a concentration camp and it was always kind of weird when you were with her you kind of got used to hearing that click click click because she would always kind of grind her teeth and they were false teeth so they were… it was a really loud noise. We always knew that she did that because of her time that she had spent in a concentration camp. She was very young at the time.

H: So that’s your great aunt?

M: Yes.

H: Cool! I did not know that. That’s really interesting. Um do you think that it’s important for a person to know about their ancestry?

M: I think it’s very important. I think it’s very intersting too. Sometimes I think when you start looking back you might not like everything you find, like they were a scoundrel, they were a thief, or you know they had some not-so-good qualities but I think it’s important because I think you learn a lot about your family hisroty… like if we had had another girl we would have used the name Mckenna because that is my dad’s mother’s maiden name.

H: Gotcha. That’s pretty, I like it. Um okay, how is… how do you think we can incorporate what we know about our family’s history into our daily life?

M: Well not that this was a problem in our family but let’s say if in your family history you have somebody that’s an alcoholic you would know to steer clear from alcohol because alcoholism can run in a family. I…I think that we know about like the struggles that your family has had or if you know that somebody like, you know, for example, if your great great grandfather came on a boat or, you know, your great great grandmother came on a boat, you know the struggles they had trying to make in in this country and you appreciate the fact that you’re here and the good things you have in your life- you have a tendency to appreciate them more.

H: That is a good point. Um, what stories have come down to you about your parents or grandparents and who… like who was the tradition bearer, who told you the stories, where did you learn about this stuff from?

M: Well my mom was, she always has told stories, she’s talked about her mother all the time, about how her mohter was a good child and she’s told the story about when they were little, her brothers Lee and Joe were out playing and they tried to catch a squirrel and they grabbed the squirrel and the squirrel turned around and was biting and it had bit my uncle you know who was little at the time and she picked up a rock and she threw this rock so hard and so fast that it hit the squirrel in the head and killed it!

H: Oh my gosh!

M: But she was one who had like a powerful arm like when she was like mad or angry or whatever. My mom often told about the struggle that Grandaddy had, my grandfather, because they had ten kids and he was out using the corn picker and his arm got stuck in it he tried to dislodge something that was jammed in it and when it did it cut his arm off so there he was with, you know, one arm and a partial arm trying to farm and take care of his family of ten.

H: Thats crazy.

M: Yeah it was a real struggle for him so I think when you… Nana always talks about those stories and she always told us about how hard he worked and what a hard worker he was and how one of the things was they just demanded respect, like they said something and they said it one time and if it didn’t happen then there was consequences. There were none of this time outs, none of this, you know… they were… they were very much people who spanked if you did something wrong but they were also very… the factt that my mom’s family was so close- they were a very close and tight knit family you know. She always talks about how they grew up poor and her mom would sew flour sacks to make underwear for them. They would cut up the flour sacks and make underwear, and she talks about his one time that Aunt Betty was gonna get paddled and they lean you over the desk to paddle you and she didn’t have on her good underwear, she had on the flour sack underwear and she would not lean over that desk and it ended up being a way bigger thing than what it was, but she didn’t want people to see her poor flour sack underwear.

H: That was Aunt Betty?

M: Yeah

H: At school?

M: Yeah. They paddled at school when you did something wrong.

H: Was that Catholic school?

M: No it was just regular. But she was not going to let people know that she had underwear made out of flour sacks because it had the logo on it you know so if she bent over people would see where it says wherever the name of the flour was and she ended up getting into a world of trouble because she wouldn’t show her flour sack panties.

H: Oh my gosh! Okay do you know Grandada’s dad… so I guess your grandpa, my great-grandpa Johann Anderson? When he came to America he changed his name to John, do you know why… like on ancestor.com it says he came here all by himself when he was fifteen, so do you know anything about that story, like why he came?

M: Um I don't… I really… I don’t know the whole truth behind it. I know that he was young and that he ended up working on a horse farm and so that’s how they kind of got into the horse business. They acutally… I think he wound up in Maryland when he got here… is that what it said?

H: Well what I was able to find said that he went straight to Paris, Kentucky but when I was talking to Uncle Matt, he said that he ended up in Minnesota.

M: Well maybe… yeah that’s what it was, Minnesota, and they had a farm up there named Clearbrook Farm and that’s where Grandada, when he wanted to name his horse farm, thats why he used the name Clearbrook.

H: Interesting. I didn’t know that. I’ll have to look into that some more. Um so how did they end up in Kentucky?

M: Grandada has never really talked about that. I’m sure they did… It wasn’t, you know, like when I worked out on the farm with my dad we talked about farming things like the horse doing this or that and when I was in the house with my mom she shared stories about her family so I know way more about my mom’s family that I did my dad’s. We were clsoer to my mom’s family. We did a lot more with my mom’s family than we did with my dad’s.

H: Why was that do you think? Just ‘cause the dynamic was different? Or…

M: My dad’s brothers married some women who thought they were high scoiety and they thought they were all that and we were farm people and they kind of looked down on us like even in school our cousins that were Andersons- they didn’t have anything to do with us.

H: Really??

M: Uh huh.

H: That’s interesting.

M: They were first cousins but they really had nothing at all to do with us

H: That’s crazy.

M: But I think it stems from their mom, my aunt Mary Jo, thinking she was all that.

H: And she’s the one that doesnt like to share things?

M: That’s right she took all the family pictures when grandmother died- she took all the family pictures and nobody has seen them.

H: Well that sucks.

M: Yeah.

H: Well not that I’m saying I’m going to do this but if I somehow like called her and was like ‘Hello, do you have the family bible?’ that’d probably be a bad idea?

M: Yeah.

H: Okay.

M: She’d probably be like ‘I don’t know anything you’re talking about,’ because first she said she had it and then she said… she’d be admitting that she took it.

H: Oh gotcha.

M: She claims she knows nothing about any of the pictures or anything when people have asked for them.

H: Even not to take them from her, just to look at?

M: No, like I said, she does not want to share anything.

H: Well that’s unfortunate.

M: Well luckily we have a couple of pictures that we had gotten when I used to go down to my grandmother’s and like we worked down at her house for her somewhoes. She had given us a few like old pictures of Grandaddy and Dad and his brothers when they were younger and stuff so we have a few of those.

H: Gotcha.

M: Aunt T has those- another one who does not like to share hahaha

H: I think acually Uncle Matt said something about that… that Aunt T had some like love letters between your grandparents ?

M: Mmhmm.

H: So I don’t know.. if we ever go back… if she ever comes and visits when we’re up there I might ask her to bring those just so I could look at them… anyways so I found on ancestry… also I had to go way back, but I think that the first people on Nana’s side of the family that came to America came in like the 1600s and they came from England, do you know anything about that possibly? It’s really far back so I don’t even know a lot about that…

M: No I know nothing…I i know she will… I don’t know anything about that, Hannah.

H: That’s okay. I don’t either. So how long did you live in kentucky like during your lifetime?

M: I lived there from the time I was born until 1987. I moved to Georgia in 1987.

H: Um so how would you describe Paris, Kentucky to someone who’s never been there?

M: It’s a small town. It’s a town where everybody knows your business. It’s a town where… that’s a good thing and a bad thing. When Uncle Matt got hurt we had so much help and support from people you didn’t even really know but everyone knew what had happened. It’s a good/bad thing, too you know? Um it’s a little bit I would say dated, like they aren't as… they don’t seem as progressive as things are here. I think the life growing up in the country… looking back when I was growing up I thought it was like so horrible and we were so deprived of everything because we didn’t do a lot because we were out in the country, but being an adult looking back now I wouldn’t trade that for anything, like the experiences I had, the stuff we were able to do as kids out on the farm like when you and Emma were young and were little and we went up there and you just kinda could go out and do whatever, that’s how it was always- all day every day, but we had dirt bikes, we had jeeps, we had you know horses, we had cows, raising calves, we had little lambs that we raised in the basement or we started them in the basement on bottles, we had ducks you know, just to have had that experience with all those different things- it’s one of those things that you just can’t buy. You can’t manufacture that kind of experience you know, but at the time too we… we weren’t involved in band, we weren’t involved in extracurricular activities because first of all, there were six kids and we lived out in the country, so getting everyone back and forth was kind of a problem you know. Growing up… it wasn’t until I got into college that Grandada’s horse business started to thrive and we had lots of money, but growing up we were always like struggling. It was one of those things- we had clothes from the Nearly New shop, Nana made our clothes, we wore hand-me-downs… so it wasn’t like we… we weren’t deprived anything that we needed but you know, when you’re a kid and you don’t have… you can’t be in the band or you can’t do it, you think that’s horrible and that’s so awful and when you’re in school and everyone’s wearing you know name brands and you got the one from J. C. Penny’s with the stupid little thing on it, you felt poor you know? But looking back you know… and the adult perspective is you see really how rich that… that… that background was. You know it’s like ahhh those little bit of times we’ve taken you all up there and you’ve gotten just a snippet of it, it’s like at least you got a little taste of it, but it wasn’t anything like what we had because you know it was there all the time. You worked out in the fields, we followed.. like when they raised tobacco we would follow the tobacco setter all day long, walking in the fields in our bare feet in the dirt, you know, any plants that the setter didn’t put in the ground we had to put one in for because you didn’t want holes in the crop where like they missed the plant, so we would follow the tobacco… and that was just a job we did, like we would walk and walk and walk like it was no big deal. And we would play outside at night barefooted and catching lightning bbugs and stuff like that.

H: That sounds fun.

M: Well looking back it was. You know I always thought ‘Oh we’re just poor, we can’t afford anything.’

H: Yeah. How has Paris, Kentucky… how has it changed over your lifetime?

M: Well it’s actually grown. They have a Walmart now which is very progressive for them. They did have a Starbucks but it closed down. It couldn’t make it there in Paris, if you can believe that. There used to be several little elementary schools throughout the county and they, all those small ones, have shut down and there’s one county elementary school. Um there’s Paris Elementary School and there’s Bourbon County, like the county elementary, I don’t know what the name of it is , but there’s one big school where there used to be Clintonville and Ruttle’s Mill and North Middleton, those were all little towns like in Paris, you know if you want to call them… they were like the little country out… I don’t know what they were… they were… but they had little schools like basically like little buildings and there might be twelve kids in a class, but all of those schools now have shut down and there’s one school. There’s like the county elementary school so if you live in Paris or Bourbon County… and if you live in town you go to Paris and if you live in the country you go to the one elementary school.

H: Gotcha. Um what… so a lot of our family lives there, like in that area, so why do you think like why do you think they stayed there for so long, like why are they all… almost all, still there?

M: I think it’s the family ties.

H: The family ties?

M: Yeah just being close to family, and what’s comfortable. And like I said too, when we grew up, we didn’t do a lot of social things. I… I think there was like that little bit of fear of going out and doing something different going out on your own you know?

H: That makes sense.

M: I think they kind of stuck with the comfortable because… it was comfortable.

H: Was it hard for you to leave?

M: It was but I was kind of a bit of a… a… a rebel. I was like gonna… I was gonna do something. I was like I’m going to the big city and I knew absolutely nothing about Atlanta, but I saw something in the paper about it and I was like ‘I’m going there.’ Then when my mom said ‘No you’re not’ I was such the rebel that I’m like… I was like ‘Ohhhhh yes I am! I’m out of college now, I’m gonna do what I want!’

H: Yeah. Um what… okay this… I don’t know if you know anything about this but um, the house that you grew up in… I know it’s really old, so what was it like growing up in a really old house like that and do you know anything about its history?

M: Well I know my dad was raised there- that’s the house my dad grew up in, and I also know that it did not have central heat and central air so in the summertime it was hot as freaking blue blazes. We had fans in all the windows but it just basically blew hot air on you. In the winter it was cold as anything. We had gas… we had those radiators that were in the house, like the steam radiators. They don’t have them working now, but when we were growing up that’s what we heated the rooms with. It really did not heat the rooms that well and then we had the gas stoves. Um it’s funny, I was telling Emma not too long ago, I probably got the worst spanking I ever got over a gas stove, because it was like the wintertime and it was freeizng cold and we went to Catholic school so we had to wear dresses and under our dresses we had to wear slips and the little silky slips in the morning, sitting out, were freezing cold, like it was like putting ice on your body. So I laid mine, which we were told do not go near the gas stove, but I was gonna warm… it seemed like a good idea… I was going to warm my slip up. Well I laid it on the gas stove to warm up and the thing caught on fire!

H: Oh my gosh!

M: And when we put it out and so it was like, you know how like when things burn, like when plastic burns, it gets hard and crinkly? Well it was all burnt at the bottom like where the lacy stuff was and it stunk. Nana made me wear that slip under my dress, plus too she got a switch and she switched me up one side and down the other. I had marks all over my legs because I caught my slip on fire. That was probably like the worst spanking I ever got and I remember it because it was like I laid it on there and it just went poof! It just started burning and I didn’t think ‘Hey that’ll burn because that’s fire there!’ It just seems like ‘that’s warm, if I lay that on there it’ll get warm,’ and it did! It’s funny how at the time it wasn’t funny because I had to wear that slip for a long, long time- all stinky and crackly and scratchy where it had caught fire.

H: Oh my gosh!

M: But I did learn not to put clothing on top of those stoves!

H: Now we know!

M: Exactly.

H: What are some stererotypes about people from Kentucky and do you think like are any of them true?

M: Well even like when the election was going on they would show like people out like in the sticks, like first of all they‘re toothless, and second that they’re uneducated… you know my dad didn’t go to college but he’s probably one of the smartest people I know- he can tell you every kind of thing about horses, he can look at a field and say that’s so many acres and if you have this many pounds of seed, how many pounds of seed you’re going to need to seed that whatever… and he can tell you how much whatever you’re going to.. so they might not have formal schooling but they know their stuff… he can fix every kind of engine you could imagine, he can do electrical wiring, he can build stuff- he’d build on the house, he’d build barns… so while he did not have a college education, he knows more than anyone I could possibly think of. I don’t know where you can get that kind of education, where you can do all those kinds of things… he can weld, you know.

H: Yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

M: Yeah, there was a spring on the back of the farm. He dug down in there nad they put a pump house there and he made it where that spring water was pumped to all the barns. He dug the pipes and did that you know.

H: That’s amazing.

M: Yeah. So while he didn’t have a college degree per se he knew more than anybody I knew. So I think that the typical stereotype that you’re, you know, you’re dumb, you’re uneducated… well you know a lot of them don’t go to college. I dont know where the no teeth thing comes from, maybe there’s bad drinking water and people’s teeth just fall out, I dont know. They don’t all wear overalls. You know people work on the farm so you wear denim, you know, a lot of times because you need something durable and if you dont have jeans when you’re working in hay and stuff… that stuff pokes through your pants. So that stereotype has always bugged me, like you’re uneducated and I’m like you have no idea. No, my dad doesn’t have a degree from any school, but he’s smarter than most people.

H: That’s true. Um let’s see... you already answered that one… umm you kind of already answered this but I guess if there’s anything else you want to add… like what are your favorite childhood memories and I guess what kind of kid were you growing up? Like what kind of things did you like or things you got into kinda thing, if there’s anything… I know you already told me a lot of stories but if there’s anything else…

M: Well, I mean it’s just like you were outside, like I can remember… you know that wooded area over there, like where the trees are next to the driveway?Aunt Anna and I used to go over there and we had like a concrete block and that was our oven and we would go and get dirt and we would put water in in and we took our little metal pans that we would get for Christmas, you know like the little fake dishes? And we’d make mud pies and we’d flip ‘em out on our plates over there, you know, and I can remember going fishing with my grandmother down at the pond and it was like you so fun and it was so exciting when you actually caught something you know and I can remember before you would go fishing you had to go dig for fishing worms which sounds like ewww but it was actually fun. And I can remember we had a pet duck and that duck would follow us all over the place, like you would just walk… wherever you walk that duck was waddling behind you, you know.

H: Like on Friends!

M: Right, like on Friends! And just stuff like that… I can remember when the man across the road… he had sheep and um… one of the sheep had… had twins and it wouldn’t take the second baby and Grandada, he brought it for us, my dad, he brought it for us and we had it down in the basement and we had little bottles and we were feeding that little lamb and what an original name, we named it Mary, but you know so… but it was the cutest little thing and it was so soft and the way it little… hopped in the grass, you know I just look back at stuff like that… like that was soooooo fun! You know like we would build forts up in the hayloft you know and I can remember like being a teenager getting on my dirt bike and riding the dirt bike to the back of the farm next to the… there was that creek back there and sitting… parking the dirt bike and sitting next to the creek and just sitting back there having your teen moments, you know where you’re contemplating life or you’re crying over a boy or whatever it was. You know and we had the fields and we would take the dirt bikes and we’d go out and we’d have jumps and we’d go dirt bike riding in the fields and the fields were kind of those rolling hills, and in the winter, Grandada would tie the inner-tube behind the jeep which had four wheel drive, and he would pull us so fast on the inner-tubes in thew snow… oh my gosh it was so fun! You know and you just you would… first of all you’d be freezing to death but you’d have so much snow down the front of your suit and down your pants because like your belly was dragging through that, but it was just… it was cold but it was fun.

H: That sounds awesome!

M: We did a lot of fun stuff you know. Every Sunday we had… not every Sunday, but in the summertime most Sundays, we had cousins and the Hudson's and they had… they had six kids like we did so we’d all get together. There was always a barbecue- we always had hamburgers or whatever on the grill and we always played softball. We had the softball game every Sunday. I hated it because I sucked, but you know the other part was fun! That’s where I got my sports complex because it was always like ‘I got so-and-so’, ‘I got so-and-so’, ‘oh, y’all got Maja.’ That’s how it always ended- ‘y’all got Maja.’

H: That’s funny. Um so you had five siblings so what was it like growing up in such a big family?

M: Well there was a lot of… I mean we were close but at the same time too we fought all the time. You know Aunt T and I, no secret about that, we fought constantly. She was thirteen months older than me and we just… we just did not get along at all. We fought over everything but… we had all those kids, we had one bathroom, we didin’t have a shower, we had a bathtub and if you wanted to wash your hair, you had like a hose that connected to the bathtub, so getting ready was fun. You know like trying to get ready for bed, there was everybody crowded around the sinks trying to brush their teeth or whatever. We had to share a lot so, you know, it was a good thing and it was a bad thing because you know we lived out in the country, so I always had somebody to play with because it was your siblings. You always played with them, you could go riding bikes or whatever it was that you were doing.

H: Umm, so… you obviously… how did like… how did, uhhh… how did like Nana and Grandada kind of like handle that situation of having that many kids, like trying to raise them all and kind of like conflict resolution kind of thing, like how did that go?

M: Well we all had jobs, that was one thing. Like you had jobs you had to do. We had chores in the afternoon and it wasn’t just like make your bed, like in the afternoon you’d have to go put the feed in for the horses or you’d have to…. on Saturday mornings, you’d have to get up and clean stalls or you were working in the house and it was cleaning bathrooms, so everybody had a job like you had to help do the dishes or helping getting dinner ready. They were spankers, my mom… they spanked, they were… not a sit-in-timeout kind of person. If you did something wrong you got a spanking and you knew what the expectations were. I think the rules were different for some… like Aunt Sue seemed to get away with everything, although to hear her tell it she didn’t but she was the oldest so she got a lot more. And I think having six kids… I think Nana and Grandada did a really good job providing for six kids, the fact that for so long we were so poor, but I think it was one of those things, you know, that they did the best they could with the knowledge that they had, you know? Now people might say they were child abusers or whatever, but you know none of us were worse off for the spankings and we probably deserved them you know ‘cause we we would fight over stupid things, but kids do that you know because that’s your sibling or whatever. You and Emma… because there were just two of you you didn’t seem to have to have the fights or the conflicts that we did because there were six of us, but I think part of that was fighting for attention too, you know, with so many kids. But I can remember at night, Nana coming upstairs when we were little and she’d pull a chair over between the twin beds not… yeah because Aunt T was in one bed and I was in the other and Aunt Anna would be in her lap and she would read to us you know. So it was like… they did the best they could with what they had. We had jobs- we worked on the farm, we worked in the house, some of us more than others, but you know they were spankers, they… if you didn’t do what you were supposed to, you knew you were going to get a spanking and it wasn’t a tap on the bottom either.

H: So what kind of went into your… I guess thinking or something… of like not really using the same parenting style that your mom did?

M: Well, having been an education major and and knowing that when you’re dealing with kids, that at school I couldn’t… in order to get kids to do things I wanted them to do, I couldn’t spank them. I… I... like I said they did the best they could with what they knew. That’s what my grandparents did so that’s what they did. They didn’t know any better or any different or whatever. But having studied education and knowing that you know you’re going to be dealing with kids and conflicts, you can’t just smack them, that there are other ways of getting them to do what they’re supposed to do. And while I don’t feel like the spanking damaged me, I didn’t want to to do that, I didn’t want you and Emma to like… fear me, I didn’t want you to be afraid that you know I was going to fly in on you and smack you. And it always kind of troubles me at school when you reach for a kid and they flinch like they’re going to be hit. It always kind of gives me pause, you know, it kind of makes me sad because you know what happens… and I’m not judging them, because you know people do the best they can with what they’ve got, and sometimes they don’t know any different , I just… I did not want to be… I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want to make you all afraid, I wanted to prove that you can discipline in other ways, you know, that it didn’t just work in the classroom, but you could also do it at home. Now that’s not to say that like you and Emma never got a spanking, but you never got one like I got. You never got a switch taken to your legs with stripes left up and down like that. You know, I might have popped you on the bottom once or twice or smacked your hand if you like grabbed at the knife or whatever…

H: Yeah. Well that’s different.

M: Right, it was more a case of a knee-jerk reaction where you did something that scared the bejesus out of me.

H: So how did… do you know how Nana and Grandada met?

M: I think it was a… a blind date? I’m almost positive. Yeah I think they got fixed up on that. I know they knew each other, ‘cause Grandada and Aunt Betty went to school together, they’re the same age.

H: And Aunt Betty is the older sister?

M: Yeah she’s older than Nana. She’s two years older so Grandada’s… No, she’s the younger sister. Right.

H: So they met on a blind date?

M: I’m pretty sure… I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but I think someone fixed them up, they needed a double date or whatever.

H: That’s funny, because that’s how you and Daddy met right?

M: Right. I think that’s what happened, I could be wrong, you’ll have to double check with Nana on that.

H: Okay, I will. Um, let’s see… I already asked you that… so in recent times… there has been many conflicts in the old Kentucky house… do you think that, I don’t know… like… it’s been like a good or bad thing to have so many family members living relatively close by? Like you do you think that..

M: I think the fact that they all live close by… I think the fact that, one, they have stayed so close and my my mom in particular has been so involved in their life, I think that they’ve grown very dependent on my parents, and I think the fact that they are so dependent on my parents… I think… I think it has bred like jealousy. I think that… that you know… and I think… it’s bred a dependency. You know Aunt Sue needs money from Nana and Grandada, and then she gets jealous when they’re helping other people, you know, if they give other people money. So I think the fact that they know everybody’s business is is a bad thing because I think they get jealous, like they’re like, ‘she’s got more than me’ or whatever which, you know, I think I’ve been able for the most part to stay out of a lot of it because you know I’m so far away, nobody knows my business.

H: Umm, what does family mean to you?

M: As far as kentucky family, or my immedieate family with you and Hannah… you and Emma and Daddy?

H: Umm I guess... just… either. I guess mostly Kentucky family.

M: Well family is kind of a tricky thing. It’s like sometimes you have a love hate relationship with some of them, like you just love them so much but you hate sometimes the decisions that they make. Umm as far as my parents go, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. As far as, you know, it’s like you know I would do anything I could for them to make things better for them, which is why I get angry at siblings because they don’t. I think it needs to be... family is always there for you no matter what, I do know that. That I think family is very important, but at the same time too I think, you know, some people take advantge of the fact that they’re family. I think sometimes they tend not to do what they… they tend not to be independent, and I know Suzy and T have been that way… that they’re so dependent on Nana and Grandada that they can’t act on their own and I… I… I don’t understand why they can’t do… like you know Nana eats cereal for dinner beacuse she can’t… she can’t actually get up and fix a meal, so she’ll just fix a bowl of cereal, but you know Aunt Sue lives twenty minutes away. Why can’t she fix like a thing of chile and bring her chile? Why can’t she fix like a pot roast and bring a pot roast? I don’t understand that… I don’t get that. And I… I think Nana would do anything for them, but they have not learned the reciprocating thing for that.

H: Gotcha. Um if you could redo your life what was one thing you’d do differently?

M: Oh gosh…. that’s a hard one, Hannah. That’s hard to think about as far as what could you do differently… You know I would definitely… well I think a lot of times, I’ve put a lot of stock in worrying about what other people would think, you know ‘oh… oh someone might think…’ I was worried about like fitting in and it hasn’t been until I’ve gotten older that I’m just like ‘I don’t care, that’s what I want to do and I don’t care what other people think,’ you know? I don’t care what they think. It’s… It’s… I need to do what I know what would be best for me or what’s gonna to make me happy and for a long time I worried about that, like what’s someone gonna think about that, what’s somebody gonna think… and I think when you spend so much time trying to please other people, you don’t please yourself. So that would probably be the one thing I would do differently is take more time to do what I know that I wanted to do- make my decisions based on what I wanted, not on what I thought would make other people happy.

H: That makes a lot of sense.

M: Because I’m very much a… like a people pleaser, like ‘oh I should do that for them… like I should do that, it’s the right thing to do,’ and it may be the right thing to do, but it may not be the right thing for me to do, but I do it because it… you know, it’s going to please somebody. And sometimes I see those tendencies in you, you’re very much a people pleaser… and that would probably be the one thing I’d do differently, is do more things for me based on what I want and not based on what other people’s expectations were.

H: Gotcha. Umm… what do you hope that you taught your kids and what have they taught you? That question was supposed to be for Nana so it’s kind of funny that I’m asking you that, but oh well I’m going to ask it anyway!

M: Well, as far as what you’ve taught me… you’ve taught me a lot about taking the high road. Sometimes… I was just telling Emma about this, ‘cause we were talking yesterday about Heaven and Hell and Purgatory and she was saying about how Dan’s parents used to, whenever they said the Rosary, always prayed for the souls in Purgatory, and I said that’s probably a good thing because that’s probably where I’m going to be and she’s like ‘well why do you say that??’ I said because…. a lot of times I think I would probably like vengence…. you know you think about it, and I’m trying to think how to put this in words where it doesn’t sounds weird… but you always take the high road, like you… you don’t get angry.

H: Well thank you! I try!

M: Well you do. You do. You know… you’ve been very patient with Lexi, which I have no idea how, you know I would’ve so been looking for a way to get back at her, but you’re not that way.

H: Well thank you.

M: What was the first part of that question? What have you taught your kids?

H: Yeah, sorry.

M: I would think probably just the love for God. It’s just… I feel like you and Emma do have a good spiritual center you know… I think you’re very centered spiritually, and I think that was one thing I really did try to instill is like a love for the Lord and a love for… for God, you know? And prayer, and how impoortant prayer life is.

H: That’s good. I think you’ve succeeded!

M: Well I think that you know, we made sure we prayed every night, we made sure that you knew how important prayer was, we made sure we went to church every Sunday… not that that makes you a good Christian but.. and I tried to teach you to like… to take care of others you know to do for others.

H: Thank you. Ummm, if you had one piece of advice to give someone else, what would it be?

M: Well… enjoy life, cause you don’t know when your next… you don’t know that… nothing is guaranteed, you’re… you’re… tomorrow is not guaranteed, so just make the most of each day… well that would probably be the one thing I’d say. At the end of each day, just think of something good about that day.

H: Sounds good!

M: Yep. YOLO!

H: Hahahaha well you ruined it!

M: Why?? No, not a YOLO that way, but just make sure that you make the most of each day. And laugh everyday.

H: Okay. I will do my best!

M: No that’s just… I just… I do try to do that, I do it with my kids at school, even if it’s stupid jokes, you know that.

H: Yes, I do know that!

M: Emma’s always like ‘Oh, Mommy!’ ‘Oh Mommy!’ So….. I don’t know if that helped, I don’t know if that got what you needed…

H: No that was exactly perfect, thank you so much.

After moving out of the house I had lived in for all my life and into a college dorm, I was surprised at how easy the transition was. I didn’t feel a huge, all-encompassing sadness overwhelming me when I thought of my parents or my home, as I had expected to happen, considering how close I was to my family. I think I was able to keep the homesickness at bay by quitting my family cold turkey: rarely calling, only sending the occasional text, and trying to visit as little as possible. This decision, whether conscience or sub conscience (I’m not quite sure), wrong or right (probably wrong), was how I lived my freshman year of college. Though it helped me cope, it left me with a lot of regrets. I was originally devastated that the interview with my grandma didn’t work out, because I had carefully and painstakingly created this project centered around that very interview. But I think God had a different plan, one that involved me reconnecting with the mother that I had inadvertently disconnected with. The “B” in Plan B undoubtedly stands for blessing, because that is exactly what this interview became for me.

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