Author of The Christmas Village and Return to Canterbury

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

G is for Gertrude and Gwendolyn

My grandmother's name was Gertrude. Mom's name was Gwendolyn. G is also for Grandma, which is what we called my grandmother.

Grandma was, at best, a very difficult woman. Really, that's putting it kindly. Like us all, she was formed by early experiences and my understanding of that gives me some compassion for her. But our overall experience of Gertrude was that she was emotionally volatile, selfish, narcissistic and unkind - no wait, cruel - especially to my mother.

Gwendolyn, my mother, had a sad childhood. I don't think she ever felt that Grandma loved her. Even when Mom was a grown woman with her own family, Grandma constantly belittled her. But in those days, people were taught to "respect their elders" - no matter what! So while I felt like Mom should have given Grandma a piece of her mind and maybe even the boot, that was not how it worked for my mother.

Gertrude is a major character in the book I am writing that is inspired by Mom's early life. This is where a writer gets to have a little fun - we get to bring life to characters that may or may not be reflecting the personalities of people we've known who have wronged us or those we love. It's a bit of writer's revenge. It's also a chance to rewrite events the way we wish they had played out....

I hope you will look forward to meeting both Gertrude and Gwen in my story. Here is a picture of Grandma (Gertrude) with Mom (Gwen) that was taken in Liverpool England. It was likely taken just around the time that Mom entered the Blue Coat School - so 1937.

I know, I know. Grandma looks like a perfectly lovely person. But it's just a photo.


DA Cairns said...

It's only a photo. Good point. Shades of August: Osage County with that grandmother of yours. Hope your family has fared better than theirs.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Yes indeed... We have turned out surprisingly well! I think we are all rather constantly aware of the need to be kind!