Anyway, I also ran across a letter from her cousin. Odd, as I didn't know she had a cousin. I pulled the woman's contact info from my mom's address book and stashed it. For about 4 years. When I finally got up the courage to call this cousin I didn't know existed, the number was disconnected. More Internet searching ensued. I finally found her on classmates.com (no linky since they drive me crazy with spam email...), held my breath and sent her a note. She responded right away, and was lovely.
It turns out she's my grandmother's cousin, not my mom's. That means my great, great grandmother (Gammer to all of us) was her grandmother. She was surprised when I asked her about Gammer's suicide, but called another cousin (family everywhere! this is awesome!) and checked. Apparently, it's true. This beautiful lady...
pictured here with her husband and 3 oldest children, took her own life at the age of 84 because her sons (the boy with the fancy tie up there, and another son not yet born at the time of this photo) planned to put her into a nursing home. It's an awfully sad story, but definitely reflects her character (at least as I imagine it was). Gammer lived her life on her own terms, fighting through all sorts of craziness as she went. She died the same way. I think she'd be glad to know her daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and great-great granddaughter were all fighters too.
Now, I want to learn more about her, and the other folks in this photo. The girl on the right is my great grandmother, age 12. Her littlest brother Max, age 3, died shortly after this picture was taken, but I don't know how or why. Her little brother James grew up and had a family, but I don't know anything about them. Hoping to hear more stories from the cousins soon, and promise to report anything interesting that comes up!