When I’m at home, one of the best parts about my grandparents coming to visit is what happens at least one time while they are there. At some point during their visit, my mom, my grandma, and I will all end up in my room. Away from my younger siblings and the male members of the family, the three of us talk.
During my time home for Christmas, my mom and my grandma came to my room. My mom sat in my golden colored chair that sits by my window, and my grandma reclined on my bed with me.
I cannot remember how the conversation came up, but someone started talking about my great-great-aunt Jean. She died less than ten years ago, and I hadn’t known her well. I knew her as my grandma’s aunt who didn’t have any children of of her own, and who had crocheted or sewed a blanket for each baby born into our family. She and her husband Louis spent large portions of their days just driving around Hastings, and I never really knew why. Jean and Louis’ house always smelled like the dog she treated like a child and the cigarettes she refused to quit smoking even when the doctor had warned her it would kill her. Mostly, it just smelled like cigarettes.
Either my grandma or my mom began telling a story that I had never heard. It was a story that I would have expected to have been in a book or a movie. It was definitely not something I would have ever imagined happening in real life, and especially not to someone in my family.
The story my grandma told was about Jean and her first husband. I had never known Jean had been married before she married Louis. My mom said her first husband’s name was Clifford Peck. My grandma disagreed and claimed she had never heard that name before in her life. My mom insisted that was his name, and my grandma called my great grandma.
“What was Jean’s first husband’s name?” My grandma asked before even saying hello.
“Clifford Peck.” My great grandma said, instantly.
My grandma merely said, “Thank you. Goodbye,” and then hung up. My great-grandma’s short term memory is slowly going, but she is able to remember the long term things.
My mom and grandma told me that Jean married Clifford, who was in the military. When they were married they moved to New York and lived when his grandma. After they had been married for only a short time, Jean found out that Clifford was already married to someone else! Jean’s parents either sent money to her to travel back to Nebraska, or they went all the way to New York from Nebraska to bring her home.
I was shocked that a story like that one existed , and in my own family! I knew I had to write about it some day.
When I visited my great-grandma during spring break, I was able to find out a little bit more about Clifford Peck. I learned that he was called Kipp, the name my grandma knew of him by. He had been in the millitary, and my family had not really known Kipp before he and Jean were married. My great-grandma hadn’t been fond of him and thought he was a know-it-all.
I couldn’t imagine what Jean had gone through, and wished that after such a shocking and sad experience, there could have been a happy ending. I will never forget Jean; her memory is scattered all through the family in the form of baby blankets.