Great Grandmother Mother of three. She ran a business in Peoria, Illinois. She also liked to entertain.

When she was young Cee Gee. Clara Gertrude Bloom Roos. 1906 - 2003. The youngest of three.

My mother's mother Cee Gee. Engagement picture. I loved my grandmother very much.

Ladies Writing Room First Trust and Savings Bank of Peoria envelope.

Parsing. Property of Gertrude Bennett Bloom. The value of education runs deep through our veins.

Definition of Parse:

pärs/ verb

gerund or present participle: parsing

analyze (a sentence) into its parts and describe their syntactic roles.


analyze (a string or text) into logical syntactic components, typically in order to test conformability to a logical grammar.

examine or analyze minutely.

"he has always been quick to parse his own problems in public"



The stories we tell become the legacies we leave behind. The woman who wrote the letter came of age at a time when America was on the cusp of change. For many, the compromises of yesterday make us and our children who we are today. To my children: May you be brave. May you be kind. May you be yourself. May you remember to laugh. It's in your DNA.

The mother I knew lived under the shadow of her mother, an independent force, beloved my many, filled to the brim with charisma. My own mother, wanted to become a lawyer but her undergraduate advisor - a man - discouraged her because that would require three years instead of the two needed to earn a masters degree in social work. She loved her studies and her job as a social worker - her first year at Simmons in Boston, the second at Columbia in New York City, she spent her working days with pregnant adolescent women. In 1968, our family moved from the city to the suburbs. White flight. My mother's working life came to a halt and she became a housewife, she played tennis, drove car pools as needed and typically stayed in bed all day long. Every day. She was clinically depressed and medicated. Her favorite past-times were completing The New York Times crossword puzzles every Sunday, reading The New Yorker from cover to cover and checking out skull and crossbones-bound mysteries from the local public library. She stayed up nights on end reading. But slept away her days.

When you grow up c. 1965 Welcome home baby Karen. 

Generations. My grandmother, Clara Gertrude (CeeGee) Bloom, was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1906, when women were outsiders to most things that weren't inside. Like voting. Teddy Roosevelt was president, telephones were in full use and cities were being electrified.  A performer and the youngest of  three Bloom girls, CeeGee was the family favourite. After their father died, the middle sister, Sara, returned to Paris, where she lived with her Wellesley College roomate, Margie Haerter, while the oldest sister, Delia Bennet Bloom, "that gentle spinster so long a friend to every charitable and cultural agency in Peoria," supported and traveled conductors at home and in Mexico. In keeping with her parent's expectations, CeeGee completed some formal study at Bradley University but as soon as she could, she moved to New York to become a dancer. She returned to Peoria at her mother's behest, taught for a time and had two children, my mother, Sally, and my uncle, Thom. Widowed when she was 53, Gram CeeGee lived life to the utmost. She traveled the world, managed her business affairs and set every table beautifully - even if for only herself - with linens and silverware. She dressed impeccably in knit suits and silk stockings and charmed people on every continent (save Antarctica, I believe). To this day, I cherish my Gram for her spunk, wit and fearless nature. She led me to a life similarly filled with travels. One day, as I stood overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the cement plaza that anchors the Salk Institute near San Diego, I thought of her, nodded to her having taken me to places far from home. That was the day she died. She is forever in my heart. As is my mother. 

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