Who Am I?

I was given some old photos by my father; pictures of him as a boy, and pictures of his family. I love old photos. 

This is picture of my great-grandfather, Gus Sr. He came here from Belgium in 1887, with his brother, Jules. Their father, Jean-Baptiste came a few years later.  

Gus married Anna Van Loo. I don't know if there are any pictures of her as a young girl. These people were immigrants, and they often didn't speak English, which isolated people back then. Gus and Anna had thirteen children, one of them my granfather, Gus Jr. This is Anna later in life. She lived to be well over ninety, and she died in 1972.

When my grandfather was alive, he told me the name of the dog on her lap, but I have forgotten.

This is my grandfather and my grandmother, early on in their lives. I'm not sure how early.  It could possibly be their wedding picture.

My grandmother was named Bertha, and her family came from Belgium, too. Her grandfather, Angelus, came to Canada first, and her father was his son. They spoke Flemish as opposed to French. I have seen the funeral card for when Angelus died, and it was written in Flemish. I wanted to have a copy, but I have yet to get one.  

I know that dimple on the left side of Bertha's cheek; my father has one just like it. I barely knew her, although I wish I had. She must have been a smart woman. She and Gus, when they married, spoke the only common language they had, English. She learned to speak French while they were married. I can remember her speaking English, French, and Flemish. Gus had an accent until the day he died, but she didn't have one that I remember. She died in 1973, at the age of 61 from complications due to breast cancer, with which she suffered with for years.

This is her father, Adolph, and her sister, Martha. Bertha is on the left.  This picture has to be prior to 1953, because Adolph died then.


Adolph's wife died when Bertha was not more than two years old, in childbirth. My aunt, who lived with my grandmother for two years after her marriage, told me that Bertha has a memory of a blood-soaked mattress being carried from the house when her mother died. Adolph never re-married, but raised his daughters. Bertha and Martha went to an English-speaking school although there was a French one available. 

Martha never married, although she did have a son, with whom my father was very good friends. Martha died in 1973. My poor grandfather had a rough couple of years; his mother, wife, and sister-in-law in that short span of time.

I wonder who these people were. I knew my grandfather the best of all of them. We used to say his bladder was behind his eyes. I get that from him, I guess. But these people were part of who I am, and I wonder what they gave me. Am I similar in some ways? I wish they had kept better records, but these were not people who were well-off, and the fact that they left these pictures is blessing enough.