My grandmother, Marjorie Lucy Reed (Margo), was born October 12, 1912 in London. Margo was the youngest of seven brothers and two sisters. Her house was small, one among many along the banks of the river Wandle. My great-grandmother died in childbirth when my grandmother was two years old. My great-grandfather was not a good parent. If he wasn’t working he was drinking and eventually the youngest three children were removed from the home and placed in an orphanage. My grandmother lived at the orphanage until she was fifteen, whereupon she returned home. A few months later she met a man, Harold, at a Fire Brigade dance. Harold was eight years older. He asked her out, thinking she was at least eighteen—a misunderstanding that my grandmother didn’t clear up. They dated for several months before an ex-girlfriend of Harold’s ratted my grandmother (and her true age) out. Harold refused to see her for some time after that, sending my grandmother into weeks of heartbreak, seclusion, and starvation. After awhile my grandmother persuaded a mutual friend to deliver a note, a plea for forgiveness, to Harold, and asked him to come see her. She waited for him, night after night, watching from out her bedroom window so her father wouldn’t catch her. Then she saw a man walk down the street and stop beneath a lamppost—her suggested meeting point. But horrors! He was wearing a bowler hat. (This was normal for any worker in the city, and Harold was working in the insurance office.) Margo sent one of her brothers out to check that it was indeed Harold and to tell him that she couldn’t be seen with him if he wore that atrocious hat. From her window, she watched her brother talk to Harold. Then suddenly, Harold reached up, removed the hat, and threw it into the river Wandle! My grandmother wasted no time shimmying out of her bedroom window to the ground. She raced down the street and went right up to him, telling him, “Much better,” a comment to which he responded, “I feel much better now, yes.” They continued to date until my grandmother reached the age of 18 when they married. My grandmother’s story continued on to be one of adversity, tragedy, honor, sacrifice, and tough love. She lived into her mid-nineties, always relishing those years with her husband, Harold, my grandfather, a man I never had the pleasure to meet but whom I have had the pleasure to imagine. This is what stories and history and roots are all about. Sharing memories from one person to the next, keeping them alive and warm and thriving by the simple retelling.