March 29, 2009
Carnival of Genealogy: The Story of a Woman
This CoG entry will be about a woman that has inspired me my entire life. Her name was Florence Laughlin and she was my grandmother. Born January 29, 1903 in New Iberia, Louisiana, she grew up with numerous (still need a listing) siblings. Her father was a blacksmith* and died when she was about 15 years old. From various stories I’ve heard, she was extremely attached to her father and devastated when he passed away.
She married at the usual age of 23, in November 1926, to a Francis Charles Assenheimer**. After many years of trying, according to her own testimony, she finally concieved, and in the winter of 1936, when she went into labor, instead of the girl she was hoping for, out came twin boys.
But things were not so hunky dory in the busy Assenheimer household…she knew her husband was cheating on her (a “womanizer” as it was termed), but ignored it as a good Christian wife should. However, when stories started that an inquiry into her husband’s business practices was going to happen, her own father in law suggested she divorce her husband to save her own reputation and that of her baby boys. By 1939, she was a divorcee – a single mom to 2 year old boys, struggling to make ends meet. She never dated again, never remarried, her sense of independence and pride was too strong to depend on any man again.
Years later, she was diagnosed with cancer, which somehow she found the strength to overcome and survive. At the ripe old age of 75, she finally saw another dream of hers come true when she held in her arms, her first and only grandchild, a tiny baby girl who took after her grandmother in so many ways, also finding the strength to overcome and survive her prematurity.
As the years passed, I became closer to Granny. I would fake sickness so my mom would bring me over there for the day. I went to live with her when I was 8, living with her, my uncle and my dad. She did everything for me, and perhaps that wasn’t the best thing to do, but she was Granny and that was her perogative.
When my dad passed away, she would shake her head, “It just isn’t natural,” she would say, “for a parent to bury a child.” She grieved in her own silent way, but she stayed strong for the family, especially for me, who was about the same age as she was when she lost her father. She, of all people, knew the overwhelming grief I felt.
She was a great mother figure during my angst-ridden adolescence, always calm and patient. Granny inspired me through her independent attitude to be like her: strong, stubborn, unfailing in love, patient, gentle and kind.
I may not always reach those lofty goals of being like her: I am a fiery, passionate person, more inclined to fight for what I believe is right, then to patiently wait the other side out as she was wont to do.
*from F.X. Laughlin’s death certificate
**from marriage certificate