Before I begin, I just have to make a note that granite counter tops have been linked with a cancer risk...
So, I know virtually nothing about the adult life of my grandmother before I was born, nothing particularly personal. She was the mother of three. She liked dachshunds. She had a Japanese-American housekeeper and gardener for many, many years -- the Iwagoshis. She objected to her children coming home from Sunday school at their Congregation Emanuel, waving Israeli flags. She was a social democrat. Her husband liked to hang out with the ladies in the kitchen. Um, and she once had a party when they were remodeling a bathroom where everyone got to put graffiti on the wall, and a mistake was made in letting people do this with lipstick.
I do know based on a hand-written note that Robert wrote to her that they once had a serious falling out where she left Robert. He said, "Don't ever leave me again, Mrs. Morris. Don't you ever do it again." What was that about? I can only imagine.
During this period I know more about Robert. He was an architect designing multiple homes over the years for the family, and big buildings like the Samsonite factory and offices, and the Denver JCC. He also was a great athlete, and was asked to join the professional tour of golfers of the time, and declined.
From this I can assume that Babette spent a lot of time at the country club, Green Gables. She may not have been the wealthiest member, but I guarantee she was one of the most sophisticated and stylish people there. She had a very dry wit, and had that ability to hit the mark with her words and descriptions. She must have been on the top of the world to some extent. The few photos that survive this period recall the style of Kathryn Hepburn, high-waisted pants, cigarettes, coifed hair-dos swept to the side, deep red lipstick.
She was particularly sweet on her son Tom, though he was out of step with everyone and she often referred to him as a salmon swimming upstream. Her son Robert was a very conforming, sweethearted boy who attached himself to Robert's brother, Earl, fondly referred to as "Nanny." Where Tom could barely tuck his shirt in, Robert was tidy and predictable. Where Robert remembers participating at Congregation Emanuel, Tom has no memory of it. Meanwhile Betsy and father Robert were both the athletes and artists.
Things seemed to go along without trauma except for running over a beloved dachshund when it leaped out of a window after a cat. She always hated cats.
Then the kids went off to school. Betsy wasn't too scholarly and went to the Arts and Crafts College in Oakland, California. Robert had some trouble at the University of Colorado and transferred to Brigham Young University and focused on Audio Design in Architecture. Tom plugged along at the University of Colorado and followed the family business -- architecture.
Robert married a nice Jewish girl from Walnut Creek, California. Tom fell in love and married a gentile Southern Belle from east Texas. Betsy had an abortion. For a Jewish woman, even one who had somewhat rejected it all due to the advent of Israel's reality, it must have seemed like things were going slightly arry. She had a strong memory of slapping Betsy for her decision to abort her baby.
Then the worst tragedy of her life came with the diagnosis of Betsy's Multiple Sclerosis. Over the course of less than 10 years Betsy's health declined, her athletic prowess left her, and her sight, and her hearing, and her mind until she was little more than a vegetable in a nursing home. Babette and Robert never recovered from the experience of it. Not only did they lose their strong, tomboy girl, they went bankrupt because she had no health insurance.
More to come...