I never met my paternal grandmother. She had already passed when I was born. I’m sure I would have enjoyed her company because I certainly enjoyed the company of her only son…my dad. He had a big heart. He had lots of stories and loved to tell them. He had an interesting past which included time with the grandmother I never met.
My dad came from a blended family. That was something of an anomaly in the year he was born…1918. Even if it was due to the death of a mate it was uncommon then. He was the sixth child of my grandfather who I also never met. He died just after I was born. I missed both of them but I knew my dad well, and because of that, I knew my grandparents even though we never met.
Here is a glimpse of my dad. When my dad was thirty or so my grandmother was confined to an institution. The institution was called simply Milledgeville. It was the home of the state run asylum for the mentally ill. It is here that she would look blankly into the evening sky and comb out her red hair. It was here also that she was mistreated when mistreatment did not convey the same treatment then as now. When my dad learned of this mistreatment he decided to do something about it. He tried the regular more conventional channels of release and was told that could not happen. But my dad was hard headed and set on getting his mom out of a place where she was being mistreated.
One night in October of a year I do not clearly know, he made the drive to central Georgia. This was when there were no major highways leading into or out of that infamous city to the south of Atlanta. He marched into the facility, picked up his mom in his arms and carried her out of the building through the front door. It must have been a sight to see.
My grandmother would pass at home with her family. She spent no further time in Milledgeville. That was my dad. He was head strong with a big heart. The poem that follows is in honor of that October evening in a year I do not remember just south of Atlanta.
My father’s father
Took a second wife
Her name was Martha Jane
She bore his sixth child’s life
Two sons and four daughters
They all shared his name
But had different mothers
And life was not quite the same
My father grew up
As a brother to them all
But his mother was not related
There seemed to be a wall
Martha was later sentenced
By her doctors if you will
As a patient in the asylum
Known to all as Milledgeville
My father learned in his thirties
Of the care she had received
And decided on his own
His mother would be soon retrieved
The medical community affirmed
That she was not allowed to leave
But my father would not hear of it
It was news he simply would not believe
He recklessly raced to Milledgeville
On an October Friday night
Picked her up in his loving arms
And left the asylum without a fight
Martha died at home with family
In the sight of her loving mate
It seemed a fitting ending
To an otherwise ugly fate