Sometimes when I don't make it around to posting (usually on Tuesday) my husband will come home from work and ask, "Did you not post anything today? If you did it never showed up." (He's really sweet and reads my blog every. single. day.) I usually give him this blank look and kind of shrug my shoulders wondering when he will notice that the children are actually climbing the walls. Kidding.... Some days I just don't have anything to say.
Yesterday he asked and I just told him I found where his great-great-great-great grandparents were living in Germany. The exact house. That was in the 1700s, but it was bought by an even greater grandpa in the 1500s, had to be sold and then his great great? grandson was able to buy it back. How intriguing. And then they sold it again and came to Texas for a better life. Here we are today.
I really admire those women who came over, especially his gr.gr.gr. grandma, Johanna. She was one tough lady. After arriving in Texas her husband couldn't find any work in Galveston so he made a deal with some guy for a ride to their destination. In exchange he would work for him for a year and receive a cow and horse. The guy allowed T's gr. gr. gr. grandparents to work a little piece of land and keep whatever they could grow... the owner did this because he knew that piece of land was worthless and nothing would grow there. Obviously he didn't realize that Johanna had a green thumb, she wasn't stupid and she wasn't going to let a bunch of sandy soil ruin it for her and her family. She hauled a ton of pig manure out to the field and planted turnips. They ate a lot of turnips that year. She was able to grow two bales of cotton and sold them making just enough money for them to purchase their own piece of land. The cow and horse they received after a year of working 6 days a week for this guy.... a half blind horse, a gimpy cow and two bum steer. I bet they were thankful anyway. I would have griped and complained. They moved to their own place and didn't have time to build a house or really any sort of good shelter before they needed to plant and clear land. They leaned some boards against a hay stack and called it home. Johanna cooked in the great outdoors every day. When it was too cold for them to do anything they huddled up under blankets and nibbled on corn kernels. Nibbled on corn kernels?? They ate all the rabbits they could catch and other "critters". She had a baby in the wilderness and they finally moved into their house when the baby was eight months old. I love that when her kids would say they were hungry (and I am sure they were) she would simply tell them, "No, you just have a big appetite." My kids eat all day and they are always complaining that they are hungry... I'm going to start telling them that same thing.
I came from hardworking German immigrants, too. Compared to them I live a posh life. I have indoor plumbing, hot water, a bed, refrigeration, instant communication with people around the world, doctors and hospitals to simply get a check up, my children live past the age of two, a variety of food practically at my fingertips... and I still complain about things. My Opa, who is 96, finds it amazing that now days people own so many different pairs of shoes. He had one pair a year and wore them only when necessary, like to church and during the winter. His mom made cornbread every single day from corn they grew and ground at the mill. A lot of days they just had cornbread and some vegetables for supper. Beef and pork were rare, I think they only bought it, from a next door neighbor/farmer, once or twice a year. They only ate what they could grow. Opa says he remembers planting acres of tomatoes and potatoes... ACRES and tending them by hand. I can't even maintain six tomato plants and two rows of potatoes before saying that it's too hard.
I know our times have changed and I sacrifice different things for my kids, work hard in different ways, but can we just pause and be thankful for the hard work of our ancestors, who petitioned their government for approval to immigrate, saved every cent they could for 6 years, made the 13 week long journey with the promise of nothing but "opportunity" to a foreign land so that their children and children's children could have a better life? Because, if you give it any thought, you'll realize you wouldn't be here if your gr. gr. gr. grandparents had said, It's too hard. So... mainly this is all directed at myself so that I will be grateful for what I have and not complain about what I don't, but I also think it's an amazing story to share.