I am a Christian. I am a Republican. I am a very proud American. I believe both state constitutional laws and the United States Constitution was not followed. I have a right to say this not only by the 1st Amendment of my Constitution but also because I remember having to learn and recite the amendments of the Constitution when I was in 8th grade while standing in front of my History teacher. If I forgot one of them or could not recite them in order I had to go back to my seat and go over them again and try to say them again until I got it right. So, needless to say being taught them in that manner ensured that I would know them and not need social media or a politician to try and explain them to me. I have been absolutely appalled by the hypocrisy and lack of factual information being provided by those in government and the media but also by citizens that are eating it up as facts because so and so says so. And or also explaining themselves as that they have "researched" and know these people are correct. Research done from the internet has not and is not ever a reliable source for accurate information. I remember in grade school and college being told not to use my citations from the internet because they would not be considered as factual sources when doing reports and papers. Anybody else remember that? I have even tested Google over time with known knowledge and seen how I have had to use all source of back channeling phrasing and ways to find factual information in regards to history and this was before it began to be reported that information was being censored on Google through the media. So I hope people will respect that I have a right to speak freely. I do not bash, insult, or threaten people but that has been done to me over the past year by people I thought were friends. This is one of the reasons why I created this site so that if I don't wish to be disrespected I don't have to endure it.
Now that I got that out of the way...here is what I feel is a powerful story of love and sacrifice. And it just so happens to be true and about my family. As Valentine's Day is just around the corner I thought it proper to give and maybe remind people of love and how without it there can be no humanity.
My great-grandparents on my mother's side were from Russia and moved to the United States at the beginning of the 1900s due to the direction they could see the countries rule and building unease that was starting to brew. They were concerned of a stronghold take over that would make life impossible and frightening for them and if they should have a family. So around 1910 my Grandma and Grandpa Freedman packed up all that they could and made the adventurous leap to move across the world to America.
They only had one child, my papaw Alexander in 1921, when my great-grandmother was already in her thirties. They were Russian Jews and my great-grandmother, from what I was told growing up through stories from both my grandparents, was the "Ruler" of the household. My papaw used to say that she was very strict and kept the house under her set of rules. According to my papaw my Great-Grandpa Freedman was a sweet and gentle man. I used to love to hear stories about them and was always completely absorbed in every word when my papaw would be in the mood to talk about his parents.
He grew up in The Bronx area of New York and used to walk to Yankee stadium as a kid with his friends to watch baseball for a nickel a ticket. I would hear stories of games he saw of Babe Ruth and many other legendary players. He loved the Yankees till the day he died and if any of my boyfriends liked the Yankees and could keep up a true conversation about the team with him then he liked them immediately. It used to crack me up when his face would light up when he found one of my boyfriends knew what he considered important Yankees knowledge. He'd say, "Heather. I like this boy. Good job." Hahaha. So as I said I am a Christian. Did you notice my statement that my great-grandparents were Jewish? Yep, my papaw was born and raised in the Jewish faith. And if ever there was a stereotypical look for a Jewish man; my papaw fit that look to a "T"! As a young adult he was short, skinny as a rail, long pointy nose, and ears that stuck out (it seemed like an inch or maybe even two) on either side of his head. He had the biggest grin that seemed to wrap around from one ear to the other. Every time I saw that smile or today look at a picture of it I can't help but smile and giggle a little because it is and was so adorable. When I came around; the papaw I knew was still short, trim, had the ears out to there, but he had also gained the bald top of the head look. To me he was the cutest looking jewish man ever. Because even though my whole life my papaw was a born again Christian he could not change the look that his heritage gave him. One year during the month of February our church ran a series about love and before the sermon they would run a video on the projection screen of a couple telling their 'love story'. My grandparents were asked to tell their story, and I still have the vhs copy of it, because it was and is the truest love story I have ever heard. And I am so proud to be the granddaughter of such a wonderful and faith filled love.
During World War II both my grandparents played a part in defending our country. My papaw was an officer in the United States Air Force. My grandma was a WAC for the United States Army. And for those that don't know the ends and outs of rankings in the military, my grandma actually outranked my papaw. That was always a funny joke in our family how papaw had to salute grandma during the war. My grandma, Vivian (or Pete, my papaws nickname for her), was a country girl who had been raised in Prairie Hill, Texas and was born in 1919. So she was also "the older woman". Hahaha. They were both stationed at the military base in Carlsbad, New Mexico. We were very thankful that they both held intellectual abilities that were necessary for what was needed here in the United States to help with the war effort. My grandma worked in communications and my papaw was a skilled aircraft engineer. After the war he became a technical editor for General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) helping with the designing of aircrafts. So this is where a Jewish boy from The Bronx met a country girl from Texas and fell in love.
They married while still serving their country and had a military base wedding. Now my grandma was a Baptist Christian, shocking for a Texan right? And then there was my papaw who was Jewish. Well, during their courtship, before marriage, my papaw found that his heart wanted to be a Christian and follow the Lord. He gave his life to Christ and then was baptized on the military base as well. This was something that even though brought him great joy; it also brought great fear, anxiety, and sadness. He knew once he told his parents that he had departed from the Jewish faith and had become a Christian that he was going to lose his only family; his mother and father. In the Jewish faith when one leaves the faith they are considered 'dead' to their family and their community. Imagine being the only child who is the first generation American and you are about to lose everything you have ever known. My papaw told me that even though he knew he would lose his family and the life he only knew that the sadness of that was nothing to the love and happiness his faith in the Lord was to him. I don't care where your heart lies in regards to faith you can't deny how powerful a resolve that is for someone to do. They did not tell my papaw's parents about his converging to the Christian faith till after they left the military. And as he feared his mother turned him away and even held a 'funeral' for him. I once asked him to explain what that meant and he said just as it sounds. They literally write his name down within the book of Jewish deaths as we would in an obituary or our Bible of those close to us and considered them deceased. I have a copy of my great-grandpa Freedman's Jewish death letter from when he passed away and my papaw said that his looked the same even though he was still alive in body.
It wasn't until after my aunt Alice was born in 1949, nearly eight years after my grandparents married, that my great-grandparents finally began to see my papaw again. He once told me that if his father had had the choice the 'death' would not have been of any consequence to him and there never would have been any lost time. But my great-grandmother was the boss and so they did not associate with him until she said it was to be so. According to my grandma it was their first grandchild being born that thawed the pain and anger she believed great-grandma Freedman had been harboring. Alice brought my papaw's family back to him. From the day she was born she was the independent, energetic, outspoken, and grounded person that she would remain to be till the day she was taken from all us way way too soon. I never met her or have heard her voice but throughout my whole childhood my mother would tell me how much I was like her and how much she would have loved & spoiled me. But that is another story that I will tell when my heart can stand the memories to share it.
In 1952 my mother, Rebecca Ann (mine and Emma's namesake), was born and according to her she absolutely adored my great-grandpa Freedman and thought he was the kindest and most gentle man she ever knew. The last of my grandparents children, Steven Alexander (after my papaw) would come in mid-December of 1954. This was the proudest moment for my great-grandma Freedman as there was finally a male to carry on the Freedman name. My great-grandpa Freedman was able to meet my uncle only one time before his death and so my uncle was the only one with no memories of their grandfather.
I could always tell that it was difficult for my papaw to talk about his father when I could get him to tell me stories about him. Everyone from my grandma to my mom always talked about how sweet and kind he was and it intrigued me to want to know more about him. With great-grandma Freedman there were lots of stories about her strong will and ruling hand but not much about his father. But one story has always been my favorite and it is one that even though it was saddening for him to tell I could also see that it brought his heart joy as well. The last time my papaw said he saw his father he spoke to him at great length about the Lord and how wonderful He was and his message of love, hope, and everlasting life. Papaw said that his father asked questions and displayed the same emotions that he had done when the power of the Lord's love was taking over his heart. He said that he will never know for sure until he is in Heaven with the Lord to know if his father truly accepted the Lord before he passed away but that it had always gave his heart great joy to think that he might be reunited with at least one of his parents in Heaven.
I am the second oldest of my grandparents four grandchildren and I am the only granddaughter. Growing up I was very close to my grandparents. I loved them both dearly but looking back I can see that I wanted to learn all the cooking and crafts that made my grandma wonderful to me and I wanted to grow up to be a parent and grandparent who can teach those same imaginative gifts to my future family. But when it came to my papaw I can tell as I look through old home movies and my own memories that I was a 'papaw's girl'. When I wanted to snuggle or hear stories my papaw is who I wanted. I was very proud of him. I was in awe at the sacrifices he made for what he believed in but knew in his heart it was the right path for him even though it was painful in ways. I wanted to be that strong and compassionate as well.
My papaw was a Deacon in our church. He wore a suit and tie every week and never missed a Sunday service...until October of 2004. One Sunday morning at church my ex-husband and I met up with my mom in the worship center and she said that papaw was not feeling well and grandma decided to stay home with him. The year before my papaw had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but had been doing very well. Since then there had been times where things they used to do they would skip and so we could tell it was affecting him. I was so excited to tell him about being pregnant and swore my mom and grandma (because mom couldn't help herself from telling grandma) not to say anything to papaw because I wanted to see his face and the smile I loved so much when I told him. So after church we drove to the house and grandma answered and said papaw was still in bed. This frightened me because I knew for my papaw to still be in bed at 11:30am was a very bad sign for someone who was always up and dressed by 6am. I remember walking into his bedroom and he sat up trying to hurriedly get on his robe to come into the living room. We told him don't even think about it and that I had something important to tell him. Sitting next to my papaw, who was still in his pajamas, and him grabbing my hand I told him I was going to have a baby. That wonderful and huge 'jewish' smile filled his face from ear to ear and he hugged me so tight and with so much love that it brings tears to my eyes right now as I remember the moment. He then said something that to this day makes me laugh and smile, "Pete, get my weights out! I gotta get ready for this grandbaby!" Over the next month I heard from my mom (who moved in to help my grandparents as papaw became less functional) and grandma how every where they went he had to tell people about his great-grandbaby on the way. Unfortunately, he would never get to meet his precious great-granddaughter. A month later on November 12th 2004 he would be rushed to the hospital and I missed the call from my mom that out of everyone in the family I was the one he wanted to talk to. By the time I heard the voicemail and called back he was in a coma. I got to see him once more in the hospital and talk to his sleeping face and tell him about the ultrasound picture I had in my hand that he hadn't got to see yet. At 11:45pm on the 13th my uncle called me with the news that papaw was gone. I placed one of Madison's ultrasound pictures in his hand before we closed the casket the day of his funeral. I witnessed a completely full and overflowing two-tiered church full of everyone my papaw touched in his life. He loved to tell people about the Lord, his family, and just talk about life and he did it always with his captivating smile. He cared about anyone he met as a family member because to him being a Christian meant everyone was family to him and he made you feel the same when you spoke to him. My grandparents favorite place to eat out for breakfast was a restaurant in Hurst, TX called Owens. The day of my papaws funeral that Owens restaurant closed its doors for half a day so that everyone from the cooking staff to the hostess' could attend his funeral. THAT'S how much he could touch people. I was overcome that I almost couldn't keep walking when I saw the entire restaurant staff of Owens standing along the back wall of the church as they all looked at me with tearful smiles as we exited after the service. Before leaving for the cemetary some of the staff that I knew from my times going with my grandparents told me that they all knew about my pregnancy and how excited & proud my papaw was. Then they told me about how no one wanted to miss the service because they loved my papaw so much and how the manager stood up to their corporate headquarters and told them they were going to close the store for half the day.
My mom would live another six years then join my aunt and my papaw. A short four years later my grandma would join them and just one short month later my uncle would as well. My family was reunited in full in the arms of the Lord within a decade. My uncle was the last and he lived 3 days past the death day of my papaw, his father. My family on my mother's side were gone in 10 years and 3 days. It's hard for me to believe this when I look back on it now and my heart aches that Emma never got to know and experience the love of her grandma and family. But I am filled with so many wonderful stories, pictures, and home movies that I will ensure that the love we all had for each other and our faith will keep them alive for both my girls to remember and I hope feel as if they knew, loved, and were loved by them in real life.
I hope everyone enjoyed this and not dwell on the way it ended but how it was lived. There was always love amongst us and was shared among each other at every possible moment. We never had doubts of love from any of us for another. To see how people treat others today I am so so grateful for what I had the privilege to grow up with. And everyday I ensure that my girls know faith, love, respect, humility, and everything one should know and inspire to others. God Bless you and yours.