Sunday, November 6, 2016
Who Was My Grandmother Grace?
Grace Roys, holding Richard, with Margaret, my mother, beside her, 1914, Nanking, China
Full Bloom 6 September 4, 2016
[Written two days after I learned my book about Grace and Harvey Roys, my maternal grandparents would be published by Wipf and Stock of Eugene, Oregon]
Another turn in my life’s path.
Many threads are knotted. Who
knew this was possible? It began
with a question: Who was my
Grandmother Grace? She shaped
my childhood. Her mental illness
frightened Mother, and we knew
we should take care not to be
too smart, too high-strung, too
interested in sex, too artistic.
Yet we were all that and normal.
Grace was sometimes normal,
then lost her balance when her
eight-year-old daughter died and
never completely recovered.
Mother never got over her fear.
I explored, learned of Grace’s
beauty, her mischief, her will
to have her way, her going to
the sick Chinese in the night,
her love of her babies, her music,
her fluent Chinese and many
friends, her breaking her marriage
vows and running away. She
dreamt she was in Heaven with
Gracie. She brought us rabbits at
Easter, and got our hair cut without
asking permission. Gladiolas and
cats were her passion. She tried
to be good, but she jumped her
fences too often. I inherited her
gift, lost in her; in me, full bloom.
Grace and Harvey Roys in Kuling, China, probably 1912.