Monday, January 28, 2008

Jadviga Hedwig Edythe Zwyzweicz Serra Rogers

K- So it's a mouthful, but that's my grandma! She just turned 90 years old yesterday so I wanted to share a little bit about her story.

Born in 1918, my grandmothers given name was Jadviga (yad-viga) Zwyzywics(zY-Zwits) I'm not entirely sure I'm spelling it correctly. It's a Lithuanian name. Jadviga translates into English as Hedwig (head-vig).
My great grandparents had immigrated to New York Before my grandmother was born. When my grandmother started school her teacher asked her what her name was and when she told her the teach replied, "That's too hard, and it sounds like Edith, so you will be Edith." Edith stuck and she has used it ever since. When she was in her teens she saw it spelled Edythe and made the change.

Edythe went to a trade school-style high school and received her education as a seamstress. While she was in school, she loved going to the movies, and her and a friend use to skip school every Friday to see a show. At one point the principle threatend to fail her if she did not bring her mother to school for a talk. Grandma convinced her neighbor to come to school with her and pose as her mother. Her real mother never found out!

Her first jobs, at the age of 17, were working for a exclusive dress maker and an exclusive -Madison Avenue- Valet service. One afternoon in October the dress maker asked her to deliver a pair of shoes to a client who was leaving for Europe the next day. The shoes did not fit. Not wanting to loose the sale she was returning to the shop to exchange the shoes and was hit by a taxi. She was in the hospital for two months during which time gangrene set in in her leg and it had to be amputated just above the knee. At that time there was no physical therapy. She received a prosthesis and was sent home to learn to use it.

A couple years later Edythe met Nick Serra. They fell in love and were eventually married when Edythe was 22, and Nick 23. Shortly after they were married Nick accepted a job working in the Naval Ship Yards in Pearl Harbor (This was after the war had started). It was a full year before Edythe could join him in Hawaii. A couple of days before she arrived she stumbled on the deck of the ship and hit a pole, leaving her with a black eye to greet her husband.

The loved Hawaii very much and ended up staying after the war ended. Over the next 13 years they had 2 children Dan, and my father John. One day Nick left for work very early in the morning, as usually, and then came home for breakfast. They were talking about an anniversary party they planned to attend that night. As Edythe went about her day and began preparing for the party she heard sirens and thought nothing of it. A bit later some close friends came by the house and broke the news that there had been an accident at the plantation Nick was working at, and he and another man had been electrocuted. Nick was dead.

After Nicks death it became very difficult emotionally for my grandma to remain in Hawaii. She packed up her boys and moved to California. As she looked for a house she came across one and knew it was where she wanted to live. She bought the house in Campbell California for $17,000, and stayed there until 2005, when she sold her California home for $525,000 and moved to Idaho to be near for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
At 90 years old Edythe is still living independently. Just last night she gave me a bag of homemade pirogi, an italian stuffed pasta, which I cannot wait to cook and eat. She's an amazing women with an incredible heratige and I love her so much!

Happy Birthday Grandma!


Kristi said...

I just love this history of your grandma. What an amazing lady and what a name. Holy tamoly it is long! I just love seeing the old pictures and wondering what life was like back then. I also really love seeing the fashion. It was awesome then. Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday Edythe!

Shelley said...

Happy Birthday to your Grandma! Her story is amazing! Glad you were able to share with us.

Becky said...

Wow what a life she has led! Thanks for sharing :)

Happy Birthday to your Grandma!

Steph said...

I love your grandma! I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks with her, in her Calif. home. She was an aggresive driver, full of spunk, the greatest Italian cook, generous and loving. You are lucky to have her as your heritage.

Happy Birthday Edithe.

AuBien said...

Now here is the answer to my question about your Grandma...isn't it wild to learn about someone's life before you knew them ... it's hard to imagine people we know growing up just like we are.