It occurs to me that no matter how discouraged I get, never to give up – for Charlotte’s sake. She never had the opportunities I have. She would be incredulous at my having them, let alone at my then giving them up.
So I’ll do it ‘for Charlotte,’ whenever I feel discouraged.”
Charlotte was my maternal grandmother. She died of cancer at 50, twenty years before I was born. I have one photograph of her, in which I see that she also died of exhaustion, despair, and a broken heart.
Charlotte was born in a slum in Victorian London. Census records show she was a live-in nursemaid before she was 14.
She would have been illiterate, and unable to vote. She spent her life doing the most menial of work - like scrubbing other peoples’ floors on her knees - a virtual slave to her circumstances. Her husband left when...