How can I begin to describe two people who are responsible for a part of my creation and a part of the essence of who they were, which makes me who I am? I will endeavor.

When I look at what I believe is their wedding photo, I am struck by the look of innocence and their sweet youth. I knew them not then, but came into their lives as a descendant, as they came into mine as grandma and grandpa, ultimately my ancestors. All of us entering a timely relationship of granddaughter/grandson and grandparents encounter: Hair not quite gray and bodies beginning their descent. I loved them to pieces and partly because they showed love for me and partly because they are/were part of the architects of my origin. I knew they were to be honored, respected, admired and pursued.

My grandpa Joe was a powerhouse in the scrap metal business and a collector of properties. When he entered his home, he became the dutiful servant of his wife and family.  He became a different man. Quiet, obedient and careful. He towed the line so to speak. He was aggressive and brilliant on the streets of San Francisco and he was aggressive and brilliant in his home carrying out his familial duties. He knew how to play any match. I am proud to carry his DNA and I can see it in action in my life.

Grandpa Joe had huge hands. Look at the photo. His hands were the largest hands I have ever seen on anyone, to this day. He used to love to pinch my cheek and having those huge hands willingly on your face took courage. Very soon, I realized he was such a gentle man. He would know exactly how hard to pinch. He gave just enough pressure to let you know that he could go a lot harder and that this pinch was his way of saying I love you little girl and I will never hurt you. He was a beautiful man in the quality of his moral fiber, in the driving purpose of his life and the mark he left on all of his descendants is still mammoth and continues to be a colossal fact. He was a loving mental giant.  I do not know how my grandmother met my grandfather, or he, her, but we will just have to call it divine intervention as its history still plays out on a daily basis in all of us who have them as our ancestors and we as their descendants.

My grandmother, bless her soul was all energy and love for family and friends. She could out walk me up and down those hilly streets of San Francisco at any age.  She took me to see her friend Flora Wolf by streetcar and then a hefty walk up and down a few hills. When I was totally spent huffing and puffing begging her to stop, she was on top of the hill cheering me on. By the way Flora embroidered tea towels and I still have the two she gave to me when I was sixteen, or maybe fifteen. My grandmother was a good true friend.

Grandma Dora was a physical whiz and a mental genius. She knew what everyone needed and delivered it.  When she was fifty, she became pregnant again. It was nearly unheard of in those days. Not only did she deliver a beautiful healthy baby girl, but also about ten minutes later she delivered a beautiful baby boy. Twins. This was her fourth and fifth pregnancy. My fourth and fifth pregnancy was twins as well. Does the apple fall far from the tree?  When I walk by a mirror I am not called to look, but when I do, I say hello to my grandmother. There in me is her widow’s peak, her facial structure, her stoop, her general look, and they are all mine now. Hello grandma Dora, I am you in many ways. I am honored.

The dynamics DNA plays in the union of two ancestors is the same concept for all of you, but this above-mentioned one is mine. I am the sum total of the parts of my ancestors. They have given me what I needed and it is and was up to me to use the parts well.

Start thinking about your ancestors. Who were they and how does who they were, fit into your life. If you could speak to any of them today what would you say? If you have seeded the next generation, do you see yourself in any of them? Do you see any of your ancestors in them? Do you have a story of past generations to tell?  Who will you tell it to? Keep the memory of the past close because it will foretell the future.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dina
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 19:21:38

    Wow, what a brilliant post. You are the sum of all the good parts mom. Love you so much.


  2. marty
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 20:29:47



  3. Alice A.
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 20:33:04

    Your story is captivating and written so beautifully. I wish I was part of your gene pool. Is there a name I can research about your family tree?


  4. terri
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 22:16:47

    what a truly wonderful family…from the ancestral grandparents to the parents and children…Sheila, you (and Skip) are blessed!


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Dec 28, 2010 @ 22:23:48

      Oh, Terri. Thank you so much in many ways. I appreciate your comment and your reading of my posts.
      You are such a keen observer and a diligent reader. LOve to you!!


  5. Jo and Jeff
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 22:26:27

    Thanks for reminding me of my Nana Rose (Rose Ester Rose) and Papa Ben and of course my Grandma Fannie. I never met my Grandpa. He pasted away when my Dad was overseas fighting WWII….thanks for the memories
    See you soon and Happy New Year.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Dec 29, 2010 @ 10:55:33

      I am so happy you mentioned bringing up memories. Most of us put them aside for most of our days,
      and when we bring them up they comfort us or make us uncomfortable. Whatever they make us feel, they are what has shaped us.


  6. Jacqui
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 07:05:02

    Quite a tribute. I knew well only my maternal grandmother and those memories are fading. I will reflect on them and maybe do a little “post” myself. Sadly, my maternal grandfather died a few days after I was born. My paternal grandfather died when my dad was in his early teens (causing him to quit school to help on the family farm – but he was a genius at math [and a very dear man]). I saw my paternal grandmother maybe half a dozen times, only two of which I remember but those are good memories. My step-paternal grandfather was a sweet man who raised bees. I remember going into the hives – which he housed in an old school bus – and being in awe of how friendly he was to these stinging creatures.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings and provoking some of mine.


  7. Marie
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 10:46:03

    I enjoyed reading about your grandma and grandpa and saw immediately the resemblance. Interestingly enough, I too resemble my grandma on my mother’s side. I’ve had the same experience of looking into the mirror and seeing her. She had a lot of sayings which I still remember. There is a lot of her in me as well. She’s the reason I give blood to the Red Cross, because she worked for the Red Cross making slippers. Interesting isn’t it?


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Dec 29, 2010 @ 11:10:29

      Yes, I do resemble my grandmother. We all come from some tree. We all resemble that tree.
      I used to give blood to the Red Cross all of the time, but now that I take Thyroid, they do not want me to give. I have found other ways to give.
      I know many of us feel the ancestor vibes looking into the mirror.


  8. marci
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:46:34

    I love reading these post/stories, they keep me mindful of where I came from. The family that came before me and for my children and their children. Love you mommy. : )


    • sheila clapkin
      Jan 04, 2011 @ 09:32:59

      Marci, these little tid bits are for you to have and remember.
      I love you, you great and wonderful lady.


  9. faye
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 23:29:50

    sheila thank you for reminding me how lucky I was being raised by my bubbie Bluma kaminsky Gordon and it is nice to be related to you. love faye


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Jan 08, 2011 @ 06:47:54

      I am so glad to be able to remind you of Bluma Kaminsky Gordon. Wouldn’t she just love to know that we are talking and writing about her. Be well. Enjoy 2011!!


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