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LJ Idol week 10: Open topic

In the early 1920’s Maria and Jack were in love. Her family didn’t approve of him, so they had to sneak dates and kisses, but they were determined to make it work. Then Maria found out she was pregnant. She and Jack were overjoyed, but knew that her parents would try to separate them. The parents had already introduced Maria to many ‘suitable’ men hoping to persuade her to leave Jack, but it never worked. 

A few months into the pregnancy something went wrong. Not horribly, but the doctors wanted to keep Maria in the hospital, on bed rest, for the remainder of her term. She didn’t like being cooped up, and knew that Jack would face some difficulties in getting to see her, but she settled in for the months ahead.

But Jack never came to visit. She wrote him letter after letter and he never answered. She asked her parents if they had seen Jack and they said no. They said this was a sign of Jack’s character. They said that if he was willing to run away from her when she was in need she should give up on him, and marry someone else so that her child would have a father.

Andrew was one of the suitors she had met before her pregnancy. He was nice, if a little older than she was. From the first week she was in the hospital he stopped by every few days with flowers, or a bit of candy, or just to chat. Some days she refused to see him, still waiting desperately for Jack to return. But after two months she began to really listen to Andrew, and to get to know him.

About six weeks before her due date, Andrew proposed. He told her that he loved her dearly, and would always take care of her and her child. He would claim the child as his own so they could be a true family. Maria didn’t know what to do. She realized now that Jack hadn’t ever loved her the way she loved him, and that he wasn’t coming back. She didn’t want to raise the baby by herself, and Andrew was a sweet, kind man who would take care of them. She accepted his proposal, and they were married with her still in a hospital bed. Their daughter was born, and she found herself falling in love with him as the years passed. 


But Jack hadn’t given up on Maria. He wrote her letters daily, and tried desperately to see her in the hospital. But as an unwed woman of the time her parents spoke for her. They saw her mail before she did, and took any letters from Jack and burned them. They created a list of approved visitors and only the people on the list were allowed up to the floor where Maria was staying. 

One day, Maria’s father knocked on Jack’s door. Without a word he handed Jack a newspaper folded so that the wedding announcement of Andrew and Maria was right on top. Jack read it slowly, and then again. He looked at Maria’s father and said “I’ll never bother her again. I guess she didn’t love me the way I loved her after all.” And he left town shortly thereafter.


I am not quite sure what to think of this story. Because it’s true.* The daughter of Jack and Maria, that Andrew claimed as his own, was my grandmother. The romantic part of me wishes that somehow Jack had gotten through the barricades put up by Great-Great-Grandparents I never knew, and found his love. But Andrew, my Great-Grandfather? He really was the kindest, sweetest man; he did amazing things in his lifetime. And he loved us all so very much. 

When I heard this story I had to ask my mom a question. “Does that mean that I’m not actually related to Great-Grandpa by blood at all?” The answer was yes, but I was told never to bring it up. And how could I? This was my first, and most lasting, lesson in family being the people you choose, not just blood.  I choose my Great-Grandpa Andrew, blood or not.   And I always will.


* The basic details are true. I’ve imagined bits of it and changed the names. I only remember hearing this story once when I was in high school, it’s something we never talked about much, so any mistakes are entirely my own.

@@@This is my entry for week 10 of LJ Idol – it’s an open topic week so we could write about anything we wanted. I will likely post a link to the poll once it is up on Saturday.  Thank you for reading.@@@

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That's exactly what gets stuck in my brain. I've been hollywoodized enough that I want Jack to fight his way back to her and sweep her off her feet. But it's reality, and I wouldn't ever want G-Gpa Andrew to not have been a part of my life.

I love the way you wrote this, because in the first part I was totally thinking evil thoughts at Jack for being a deadbeat ... and then it all came out and I wanted to cry for what he lost, and what he - and Maria - were made to believe. Though I'm happy about Maria and Andrew too ... and you never know what might have happened had Jack gotten through, there may not have been that happy ending.

Thanks - I was hoping this structure would work out. In my head knowing Andrew and never having met Jack of course I choose Andrew, I don't know how someone wouldn't choose him. But hindsight makes everything look different.

Very interesting story and well-told.

Thank you for sharing it.

Thanks for your kind words. I am not sure about how this one will be received.

What a sad & happy story. Thank you for sharing!

That's it exactly. It's such a great example of how even messy reality can turn out better than the fairy tales would.

I adored my step-grandfather (my biological grandfather died while my grandmother was pregnant with my father), and we're going to give our son his name as a middle name. This is a fascinating story.

Thanks. Part of what has made it stick with me is that Andrew was just Great-Grandpa. In fact, the only Great-Grandma I knew on that side was his second wife (Maria passed away when my grandma was in her early teens) and that wasn't ever brought up either. They were simply family.

I really loved this entry. I can relate to the sort of . . . puzzlement, I guess, towards having a story like this in the family history; part of you wants it to work out like a Hollwood romance -- but if it had, things wouldn't be as they are.

Edited at 2010-01-15 03:01 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. Yes, exactly. Hearing the story without knowing the people in it I want Maria to run away with Jack and live happily ever after. But knowing the people, I can't imagine not having G-Gpa Andrew in my life, or anyone turning him down. It's good mental silly putty to play with.

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Aw! That's a very sweet story, it reminds me a bit of my family, back in the day. Thank you for sharing. :)

Thanks. It's amazing how twisty real life always seems to be.

-smile- That's life for you!

Exactly, isn't that always the way? Thanks for reading.

Great story to share... :)

Egads, did either Jack or Maria ever find out that her parents had did this? How sad!

I don't think Jack ever knew how involved her parents were in splitting them up, but apparently years later Maria did find out. I can't imagine the what ifs that would have happened then.

Interesting, though this really sheds an interesting light on Maria's parents. I wonder if they thought they knew what was best (and did they?)

They certainly thought they knew what was best. She and Andrew did end up very happy together, but who's to say that she and Jack wouldn't have been happy too? My great-great-grandparents are always the people I end up most frustrated at when I think about this story.

This is heartbreaking! I'm glad you got a wonderful great-grandfather out of it, but how tragic! How did Jack and Maria ever find out that they'd both been betrayed by her parents?

From what I remember of the story Jack never knew how involved the parents had been, but Maria did find out several years later. It's strange to have something that reads like a fairy tale in my family history.

But Andrew was entirely awesome. I may have to dedicate a whole post to him someday.

This is absolutely heartbreaking. The amount of loss and sadness is just one that is hard to fathom.

I just can't imagine ever being so certain I knew what was right for someone else. To meddle to that extent is not okay.

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