Grace Monica Anderson Townsend

Grace Anderson was born on November 23, 1935.  She was the younger twin.  Her older sister was Gertrude Emily Anderson.  Gertrude died on April 15, 1936 of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Aunt Grace said that she missed her twin all her life.

Grace Anderson was the youngest child of Clarence Anderson and Anna Pavlosk.  When she was born, her parents lived at 13 Atlantic Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey. She heard both German and Norwegian spoken in the house. Grace had three older brothers and four older sisters.  I can imagine my mom (age 12) and Aunt Florence (age 15) taking care of Aunt Gracie and changing her diapers.

Anna Anderson died when Grace was two years old.  When the family split up in 1938, Grace was sent to live in a foster home with her older sister, Clara.  They lived with a woman named Eleanor Miller in the rural area in central New Jersey.  They had contact with the members of their family and must have visited with them from time to time.

Clara and Grace Anderson 1940s

I saw Aunt Grace very few times growing up.  One memorable visit was at a family gathering around Christmastime around 1967. Aunt Grace was married to an older man, Ed Townsend.  He was divorced and had several other children from his previous marriage. He was the first person I met who played golf. They had a baby daughter named Leslie. For whatever reason, Leslie hadn’t been baptized. Uncle Ernie was so worried about that he took it upon himself to baptize her. Since there was nothing handy but scotch and bourbon, he went in the kitchen for a glass of water for the ritual. Cousin Leslie was duly baptized, and I was the witness. Family Christmas gatherings were generally boozy affairs, and this one must have been a doozy.  It was the last such party.  Shortly after Uncle Ed and Aunt Grace moved to Houston, Texas for his work.

The last time I saw Aunt Grace was on a business trip to Houston.  It was 1985 and we had lunch at the Galleria Mall.  We had a wonderful lunch and a great time together.  I remember that she even wrote about the lunch in her annual Christmas letter.  I tried to connect for a few years afterwards, but never spoke to her again.  Her husband wouldn’t give her the phone. He always said she “wasn’t feeling well” or she “couldn’t talk now.”  The last time I called I begged to speak to her and became angry with him.  Around that time Aunt Grace had a tiff with my mother over a visit her daughter, Leslie, was planning to California where my sister lived.  I don’t know what happened. That was their last contact.

We heard Aunt Grace died alone in 1999; and that she was not found for a few days. She was 64.  I felt badly about her, how she died, and that I never got to talk to her again.



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By Karen