For 2016

"Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.” Jill Savage

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tillie Zik





My grandmother in law - Tillie - would be 110 today - phew.  She was a good woman - a woman who did beat 'to the beat of her own drummer' though.  She came over from Poland in a boat as a baby. She had to quit school in second grade and work the fields.  Tillie was in an arranged marriage at age 15.  She had two children a boy and a girl - Frank and Ann.

Ann was, her daughter, was my husband's mother.  She divorced Ann's dad when Ann was  just 15 and made her quit school to work the store and take care of her brother Frank. It was a successful grocery  store.  Her brother got to finish school and Tillie did go out quite a bit and left Ann alone at the store.   I don't think Ann ever got over that. She didn't see her dad anymore. (A side note - once about 40 years  later she saw her dad one more time.  Tillie was there and she said, who was that man, he seemed so nice!).  She never finished her education as Tillie didn't think it was that important for a girl.  I guess you'd say that Ann was frustrated because she got cheated out of her childhood?

Tiller was a real entrepreneur.  She owned multiple three flat apartments as well a couple of twelve flats in Chicago. Bought stocks that did so well her stockbroker wanted to know how she did it. She knew how to make money instinctively.  When her third husband died she went to the driver's license facility and laid $2 on the seat of the car and bribed the testers - she was a maniac driver!   She would drive halfway on the curb and half way on the street.  Ann never learned to drive.

I sensed that Ann was always kind of mad/hurt that she had to quit school and mind the store and I don't really blame her.  Tillie - married again and divorced.  Then she met Tony - the love of her life.  And of course that was hard for Ann too.

I asked my husband what he remembered and he remembered they were both great cooks - simple meals, but delicious.  And they had dinner together every single Sunday.

In Chicago there are sections.  There's a Polish section, an Italian section, China Town, a German Section, and so forth.  Every year they all held their own festivals.  I miss that.  Georgia does not have that.  I guess we are more International or diverse here.

For holidays they would drive back to the Polish area and pick out the chicken or turkey - live - and they would slaughter it right then and there.  Fresh, right?  And they would buy pounds of fresh Polish sausage - the real stuff and the kids would love it.  The smell when you walked in the house I can still remember.  

My own parents were divorced and Ann always invited my mom over - and we never had to split up the holidays.  My dad was in LA.  My mom loved Ann and Ann loved her.  Ann was a funny lady - if you were in 'the circle' the family circle - you were IN!  But woe if you were not in the circle - it was just like Meet The Fockers.

Every birthday of everyone - through the years we celebrated - at the house who had the birthday!  The kids grew up that way.  Ann and Ernie had 3 - two boys and a girl.  And those each had two children for a total of six grandchildren.  All of us with a boy and girl.

Tillie eventually got Alzheimers and died in 1996,  Poor thing it was really before they knew that much about it.  She thought the birds were fish.  If we brought her out - she stole things like the napkins or the menu's.  We loved her though.  Ann brought her home - but she took to wondering and fell a lot so they had to put her in a home.  Tillie I felt was always a happy self made woman - who did what she wanted to do.

Now Ann had Alzhemiers as well and she died about 3 months after her mother at 75.  She was a great MIL and a good grandma to the kids.  She loved loved loved the grand-kids.  She actually died of cancer - with the AD she forgot she had cancer - and she would write notes to herself to remind her that her stomach hurt and to take medicine, but she refused to go to the doctor until the cancer had spread - they didn't even know the source.  But the good thing about the AD was that she forgot she had cancer.  Weird.

Just a ride down memory lane today.  There is really no moral to the story.  They were both wonderful women.  They both helped out all their kids financially - thank you Ann and Tillie.  But I thought I'd share what life was like back then compared to now.

Thought for the day:

  I remember the day I met Ann for the first time - I had never met her before and we were already engaged.  She told me she told Ernie (FIL) that she was going to like me no matter what and she bet it was serious as my hub had never brought anyone home before.

And we loved each other every since.  Thanks Ann for loving me completely.


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48 comments:

Terri Buster said...

What fascinating characters! I think I would have resented being left to run that store also.

Susannah said...

This was wonderful, Miss Chatty! I enjoyed every minute of it! Family is family ..no matter what. We had some doozies but I loved every one of them. Life back them was so different!

Annmarie Pipa said...

interesting, isn't it?! every life can be a novel!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

She sounds like such a character, and you have to admire a woman who made it in a man's world. I'm sorry about Ann, but maybe her mother thought she should take a page from her book, you think? Usually, it's the grandchildren who are more like the grandparent. So maybe there's a Tillie there lurking. :-) Glad you shared this, and I'm glad that they loved you as well they should.

Hmmm... I think one reason we don't have so many festivals in the South, aside from Scottish festivals and jazz festivals, is that it is more homogenous in some of the states or it was growing up. Seems that most of the people were of English/Scottish/Irish and/ or African roots. In terms of festivals, there's the Irish in Savannah on St. Paddys, and the Spanish in Florida and Tex-Mex in Texas, and other groups that settled in, but it seems that the vast majority were of British or African origin. Now, Louisiana? That's different. Any excuse for a party... crawfish, shrimp, jazz, being cajun, etc. They love to party and celebrate their Frenchiness. I love it there. So if you want a party, head to LA, not to be confused with the city in California or Lower Alabama but Loooosiana which is the most fun place in the USA.

I think it's interesting that Chicago had all of the festivals. I would love to go. In Florida, we have the "blessing of the fleet" at Tarpon Springs, a Greek Community, and there are festivals in St. Augustine all the time... Spanish, Greek, American Indian, etc. But still, the most fun ones are in Louisiana. And the biggest party of all is Mardi Gras in NOLA. Their next door neighbor and BFF, Mississippi, has a fall and spring pilgrimage in Natchez which you would love. I'm sure if I could think of other fun things, but I know what you mean, it seems like the bigger cities, NYC and Chicago, have some of the neatest ethnic festivals. What a great experience for you, Sandie.

Hope this makes sense. I'm hurrying to go to St. Augustine today.

XO,

Sheila

That corgi :) said...

I love what Ann said the first time you met her; I think us who are moms of sons, we need to remember that and like the mates our sons bring home. So enjoyed reading this, Sandie, I'm glad you shared it. I would have loved to have met either Tillie or Ann; fascinating women they were in their own rights! My mom/dad, like I mentioned before, were Polish; where my mom grew up in Pennsylvania, they had those individual sections like you mentioned of different ethnicities and each had their own church; and if the Polish sausage you eluded to here was the same kind they had back there, it is delicious!

again, so enjoyed this!!

have a great day!

betty

Kathy ... aka Nana said...

That was fascinating! I'm glad you shared that with us.

Jeanie said...

Fascinating women....It sounds like you were lucky to have known both of them. Ann set a great example in many ways, but especially deciding she was going to like you from the start.

Remington said...

Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

Knitty said...

Thanks for sharing this. I bet we all have characters we could write about, especially if we let go of our expectations and just think about the person. It is always interesting to see a situation while standing in someone else's shoes and looking through their glasses.

By that I mean that I would have hated to be pulled out of school as Ann was, but from Tillie's point of view, was she just doing what she felt was best to provide for her family?

Things like this get me to thinking and remembering that I can't use 2012 standards in a 1920 setting. My grandmother was widowed at an early age and remarried hastily because a woman running a business (dry cleaning and tailoring) was "just not done" in 1929.

I may have to write about her story and link to yours as the inspiration, if that is ok.

Cheri said...

What interesting ladies...enjoyed your story...it would have been interesting to talk with them. I met my MIL briefly when my hubby and I dated (also briefly) once and then when we did get married I actually didn't meet her until almost a year later. We had our differences and I think we gradually developed a friendship, love and appreciation for each other. I couldn't imagine my life without her.

Bev said...

How interesting!! And what great memories you have!!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Yes you do have some wonderful memories . It's nice to have a MIL that you got along with so well. Not all of us were so fortunate. I had a friend that went every year to visit her Polish family in Chicago. That was the first I knew of the Polish community there. It's a chilly fall day here but the sun is shining. Makes a lot of difference.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

...and I truly loved the 'ride down memory lane' with you. It would be a fascinating read if she were to have written a book....I know I would have read it.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

What a wonderful family story!! How wonderful that the family was the nucleaus. Growing up in Fla., we would always have Sunday family dinner. When we moved away to the north part of the state - we would drive down to Grandma's at least once a month for Sunday dinner. You're building wonderful memories for your Grandson as well sandie!! thank yo for sharing your story!! Hope you have written it down with photos for your Grandson!!

SweetMarie said...

I'm so glad you shared this with us. It's a very emotional story! I would have enjoyed meeting both of them. :)

Beth said...

This is a lovely post. I enjoyed every bit of it. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Ms. A said...

The comfort of being family. I remember when it was like that, a long time ago. I also remember my MIL saying she wondered what ever attracted her son to me.

Susan said...

Awwwww, that was a nice trip down memory lane, Sandie. Thanks for sharing. You were a lucky girl to have nice in-laws. Susan

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

So fun to read about some of your family history :-)

Gloria Hood said...

Great story! I believe we all could tell a good one about our relative, if we tried.

TexWisGirl said...

sounds like two hardy women who both had tough starts to their lives, but managed somehow and passed on a lot of love and character, too. :)

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I love reading stories like this. You are a lucky lady to have your MIL love you. She sounds like an amazing lady, as does her mother.
Hope you are having a good day...tomorrow is Friday again, can you believe it?

Rose said...

I loved reading this Post.

Thank you for sharing such a lovely story.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Thank you for sharing this story.
What a go getter she was!
You can't beat those communities in Chicago! My grandparents were in a very Bohemian section. Similar to Polish and German foods.

EM Illustrator said...

It's nice to have those memories, I enjoyed reading your story =) Hugs to you my friend xx

Dar said...

A wonderful story of your heritage. My Grandmother was just shy a month, of her 103rd birthday when she passed away. I remember as a child, not seeing her much as she had to leave town to support 'her' kids, by being a nanny and raising 'anothers' kids.
You have inspired me to write about my Grams.
Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart.
BlessYa

Renae said...

Oh Sandie, that was so nice. Thank you! AD in both? Is your hubby worried, too? It is genetic right? But I did love that she couldn't remember she had cancer...I guess. That was a great story to read today.

The Jones Family said...

This is a great "family history" story. Our own stories are often far more fascinating than those that someone else made up that we read in books.

Ann said...

They both sound like wonderful women. How great that you had them in your life. I wasn't fortunate enough to be liked by my mother in law. Had she still been alive when my first husband and I got divorced I'm sure she would have thrown a party....lol

Linda Chapman said...

WHAT a wonderful read about some amazing women!! MORE!!! We want MORE of your Memory Stories!!!

Jill said...

This was just wonderful and heartwarming, Sandie. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Grandma Bonnie said...

What a beautiful story. I love hearing family history like that. It is good that they both took care of their children well. My father is the last elder living in our family. I do miss the stories from my mother and grandparents. I guess my sisters and myself are now the story tellers.

Dee said...

It would be fun to sit and chat with you sometime and listen to your family stories. It truly is a different day and age...it was hard being a woman back then.

Nonnie said...

I felt bad for Ann, too. Bless her heart. But I love her for loving you and including your Mom in the family. In-laws and blended families can be hard sometimes. Thanks for sharing your memories today.

jack69 said...

Hey lady, what an interesting story, thanks. A good read featuring fascinating people.

Yeah, the problem is down south that we only had Blacks & Whites. We did not have the diverse 'solid' groups of nationalities. I did get to enjoy some of the 'atmosphere' by visiting with Military friends of Polish and Italian back grounds. I enjoyed it.

Paula said...

Very interesting family story. We had to celebrate every birthday and every anniversary at the person's house. Everyone brought something sweet and the hostess provided drinks and ice cream. This was my German in-laws and in spite of them being German there was no liquor. It was almost a law with them to not miss one. My husband and I never got to celebrate our anniversary alone together. Sometime it was a burr under my saddle. lol

andy said...

Great post ! Hope your Friday is great

JeanMac said...

Aw, sweet story.

Jim said...

This is a nice story about your family. Isn't it something that the women ran things then?
..

Rob-bear said...

Thanks for sharing a beautiful story, Sandie.

Love Of Quilts said...

Enjoyed reading the story about your family.

Kerrie said...

I so enjoyed walking down memory lane with you. Thanks for sharing your precious family memories.

I love the name Tillie Zik - a name that makes you instantly smile.

Great thought for today as well.

Lynn said...

What a wonderful story.

Linda O'Connell said...

What a pioneer spirit tillie had. That was a nice little tribute.

sparkle100-havealook.blogspot.com said...

I so enjoyed walking with you in Memory Lane. Great story.

Thank you for sharing.

Nice Tribute!

Debbie said...

Wonderful story, with parts and characters I could even see in my mind's eye since I was raised with a very ethnic family much like what you describe. My favorite part was the end where you said that she determined in advance that she would like you. That, all on its own, speaks volumes about her!

I know I'm AWOL again. Sigh. It's for a good reason this time. I have BOTH daughters home for the week.
Do you think I'll EVER get back to blogging? Hope so!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I am thinking that the Polish section of Chicago is in the western part along the I-90 corridor. If it is, I have driven through there many times, but only rarely off of the interstate.

Retired Knitter said...

Love the story. People's lives were harder back then. It created strong people