I am going to use my paternal grandfather's family for this one. Not the saddest story in the family, but the saddest that I have photos for. I feel my grandfather, Ted Gardner, was a very sad man. He expressed it as bitterness towards the world.
He was my scary grandpa. He would stomp on my toes--really hard, so it hurt-- with his cane. I really didn't like him. He was bigoted, and hated just about everyone. After my parents divorced when I was ten, we didn't go and visit him anymore, and I was not sad about this in the least. The only thing about him that I missed was the yard his house in Pasadena, Calif. He had the most cushiony Saint Augustine grass in his front yard, with a Deodore cedar tree that gave the most luxurious shade in the hot climate. He had concord grapes on an arbor over his back porch. He had a Meyer lemon tree, also. This exercise has helped me to understand, a little, where his hatefulness came from.
My great grandparents had 5 children. The eldest and youngest died when they were young adults.
My great aunt Alice Cornelia Gardner, according to family legend, was a very sweet, good-natured, and talented woman. She was born on her parents' sheep ranch up Carnero creek canyon in Saguache county, Colorado, USA, in 1903. She went to France in the late 1920's to study art. (Both of her sisters were artist's also, but I don't think they studied abroad. They both painted.) She got a teacher's credential, and taught school. She did not marry. She died of acute appendicitis at age 31, in 1935.
The youngest brother, Stephen, born in 1924, dropped out of high school after 11th grade, married and had a son. He enlisted for WWII. He died of an illness that he caught in the service in the south Pacific, in 1946, at age 22.
I remember my grandfather as a real grouch. He didn't like anyone or anything. I suspect that these early losses of his siblings gave a basis for his unhappiness. His own wife, Hazel, died relatively young, when I was 6 months old. She was born in 1909, so she would have been 50 when she died. She died of asthma. My mother said that she was a really sweet lady, and that my grandfather (her father-in-law) really changed when she died. She felt that that loss was what embittered him.
Ted and Hazel had 3 children. My father was the oldest. The youngest, my aunt Jeanene, had three children. Then she died of lupus, when she was 29 years old. That was in 1967. I was 8. It was so painful for her husband that he took the children and went back east somewhere, without leaving any address. The family was completely out of touch with them for many years.
My grandfather was born in1906. Death milestones in his life:
His father's parents died lived in Illinois, and his grandfather had died before he was born. He probably didn't know either of them. He probably knew his maternal grandparents. They lived in Colorado, in the next county over, so they probably visited occasionally. His grandfather died when he was 5. His grandmother died when he was 18. His sister died when he was 29. His brother died when he was 40. His father died when he was 41. His mother died when he was 44. His wife died when he was 53. His daughter died when he was 61. My parents divorced when he was 63, and he didn't get to see any of his grandchildren much after that. His other son lived for a while in Germany, and then moved to Bellingham, Washington, so he rarely got to see those grandkids. They were a long ways away. Ted died in 1975, a bitter and lonely man.