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People say: living your life is not like crossing a meadow. This proverb has some truth because life is complex and unpredictable, full of happy and sad moments, which remain in the memory forever. Everyone has their own destiny and life stories. I am sitting here with Ann Smiths. She was born and raised in Watkinsville (Georgia). Born in March 1939, she knows exactly what it means to live in perfect harmony, have happy marriage and lose everything in one moment.
Ann, would you mind sharing about your life and what you remember most out of the many things you have experienced?
“It all started at a very early age, when I was 8 or 9 years old. At that time, my father died. It was very big sorrow for me. Even now I remember his love and care about us. He always said that I was his little princess. After his death, we moved to my grandparents who helped mother to take care of us. My mother worked a lot to earn money as she wanted us to feel happy. My grandmother became a mother for me and my older sister Elizabeth. We shared all the experience with her. Grandpa loved to drink sometimes but he never abused us. When I was 12, my grandfather’s heart stopped beating. Grandmother was sick too and did not have forces to do all household chores. Elizabeth was one of the best pupils in school, so she decided to give private lessons for children to get some money. It was solid help for our family.
After finishing school, Elizabeth decided to work instead of studying. She worked in a café. Her dream was to help me to go to college. I wanted to become a teacher.
When my grandmother died, I already was a student. On her funeral, I saw one young man whom I had never seen before. He was very handsome and few years older than I. When it was time to leave home, I asked sister about him. She said he was her friend, Gerard. I do not know why, but after returning to college I was thinking about him all the time. I did not want to go for a date with other gentlemen. My response to the increased attention from men resulted in indifference. I waited for every call from sister in order to ask something new about Gerard.
I came back home on summer vacation. As Gerard was an owner of little bookstore, I went to his shop to find some books for my studying. It was the beginning of our story. From that time, we spent all days together talking about our lives and dreaming about our future. I was the happiest person in the world. However, time is so fleeting. It was time to return to college. I had to study one more year, but for me it was like eternity. Gerard wrote me letters full of love and poetry. I still have all of them. Sometimes I read them remembering how my heart was beating when I received them.
One day my sister Elizabeth phoned me, but instead of voice I heard only her crying. Without waiting, I left my classes and went home. My mother died. I cannot say what feelings overwhelmed me then. Pain, despair, fear…
After finishing college, I found work in school. I liked it. Noise and smile of kids made me happy. We lived together with Elizabeth. Gerard and I were planning to get married. Unfortunately, we had no money to celebrate it opulently, but it had no matter for us. The most important were our feelings.
We moved to a little house. Elizabeth stayed alone, but she did not complain about anything. Year later she got married. I did not know her husband well, but something alarmed me. As time showed, my feelings were right. One day he went for a work and did not return. Elizabeth received a letter from him few weeks later. He wrote that he had found another woman and could not live without her. At that time Elizabeth was pregnant. I decided to sell our house and move to Elizabeth. Gerard was not against my idea. He understood that Elizabeth was more than just a sister for me. She sacrificed her youth for me.
Little curly girl became real happiness for all of us. Elizabeth named her Margaret in honor of our grandmother. Gerard loved that girl so much. Looking at their relations I decided to bear him a child.
Our Christopher and Margaret became the best friends. One day Margaret called Gerard “papa.” Elizabeth blushed and turned to stone, she did not know what to say and to do. Nevertheless, the reaction of Gerard was different. He picked her up with happiness and said “My little princess.” I thought my heart would fly out from my breast. I remembered my father and his love. Since that day, Gerard had two children: Christopher and Margaret.
They grew up, got married and left our house. Elizabeth, Gerard and I are staying together waiting for a day when the door will open and our grandchildren come in our house. There are no differences between Margaret’s and Christopher’s children. They are all we have, our future and sense of living.
Spent years consumed former youth, strength, family and friends. They add wrinkles, fatigue, and excessive weight. One is not the same as before. There are no gentlemen around, presenting armfuls of flowers, calling to dine in a local cozy green park café… If you have family, the fear of the future will be not so big as knowledge that you are loved, gives the biggest strength in the world.”
Life of every human is priceless. It is the most complex form of existence, unique and unrepeatable, and, undoubtedly, it is finite and yet so short.