01 May 2016

Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa

On 1 May 1938, my maternal grandparents, William Howard Taft Spence and Maggie Pressley, were married. Grandpa was almost 28 years old and had been previously married. Grandma had just turned 21 and this was her first marriage.

While Grandpa had one child with his first wife, he and Grandma had seven children together, two boys and five girls. My mother was the fifth child (and third daughter) and the first to be born in a hospital. Their sixth child, a little girl named Margaret, died as a toddler.

I was told that Grandma and Grandpa were sharecroppers for awhile. I don't know for how long. Also, they lived in half of a house that was of architectural significance. It was one of the only Chinese Chippendale houses remaining in the state of South Carolina. Unfortunately, as I understand it, the house was destroyed before we left South Carolina. It was a beautiful house. They lived in half of it and another family lived in the other half.

Theirs was a very rough marriage in the early years, I am told. Grandpa was a drinker and domestic violence was an issue. I love this man dearly, but hate the things that I have heard he did to my grandma and their children. I think that ultimately he did love my grandma. I don't know what gets into the minds of some men. Near the end, not too long…maybe a year…before he died, he told me that he wished that he had never married Grandma. He didn't say it because he didn't love her. He said it because of all the hurt he had caused her through the years. I don't know how Grandma took it in her heart because when I first heard him say it, it hurt my heart for her. It hurt until I understood what he was actually saying, though in an awkward man way of saying things.

They have both been in Heaven now for 23 years (Grandma) and 24 years (Grandpa). I sure miss them. I never had to doubt the love of my grandparents, or my paternal grandparents, either. With so many things to doubt in my life, I never had to doubt that.

Happy 78th anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa Spence!


  1. I think people who commit abuse when they drink are driven by things they can hardly control. The secret is for them to learn not to drink. I think your grandpa's words were a great expression of the truest kind of love, the kind that saw what would of been best for her above his own desires and needs.
    Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

    1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if so many families touched by domestic violence could get a do-over and have a truly happy ever-after life for the entire marriage?

      I often wish things like beer and liquor had never been created. The abuse of it has caused so much pain over the course of many lives. I would give up any lesson that I've learned through the lives of my parents and grandparents if it meant even one less bruise for those living with such pain.

      Thank you for your kind words about my grandpa. Happy Mother's Day!


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