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Prime Time: Glad Titanic tickets ran out: Mother, grandmother would have been on board

The recent observance of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the supposedly unsinkable cruise ship, Titanic, has brought a bit of family history to my mind.

My grandmother did a lot of traveling in the early years of the 20th century. She and my grandfather took a trip around the world in 1898, and five years later she was left a relatively wealthy widow at the death of her renowned doctor husband.

Having migrated from Germany as an 8-year-old child with her sister and their widowed mother, my grandmother still had relatives and friends in the German city of her birth. It has always been surprising to me the number of trips she took back to her homeland in those years before air travel. The train trip from the Midwest to the coast and then the slow voyage across the sea would seem tedious today.

She and my mother, a teenager at the time, spent several months in Europe in 1912 and then headed for England to board a ship for the trip home to the United States. The long, relatively slow trip by ship across the Atlantic seems daunting to us today, but that was the only way to go then. They had heard of the impressive new ocean liner, the Titanic, and tried to order tickets on it, but they were too late, It was sold out!

I have often wondered what their fate might have been had they been aboard that ill-fated ship. They would have been in first class, and I don't know if that might have been an advantage or not.

My grandmother would have been 50, traveling with her 18-year-old daughter. She had lost her husband and her 16-year-old son within weeks of one another so this charming daughter was the light of her life. Even had the generous, good-hearted person that my mother was offered to give up her place in the rescue line, I doubt that her mother or those in charge would have been inclined to accept her offer.

I can't help but wonder what I would have done in those circumstances. I know my very generous and caring husband would have been among those concentrating on saving others.

I would have sacrificed to save my children, but I am not sure I would have been quick to offer my place to strangers.

One hopes never to have to make such a difficult decision, and it is hard to imagine what was going through the minds of those who survived as they saw so many of their fellow passengers go down with the ship.

My grandmother, who lived into her 70s, was generous, and not only with the family. She also helped found a home for needy children and supported other charities. My mother, a gifted pianist, shared her talents and was in every way the most thoughtful and generous person you could imagine.

I will always be grateful that those tickets were sold out.