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!