Monday, September 23, 2013

Family History Fraught with Grief

I've been doing the family history gig a bit lately.  It hurts me that I know so little about my parents' families, and I don't want my boy's kids to feel the same way about me, so I've been telling him stories, plus gathering information about my family for him.

If you've been hanging around for a while, you know that it's not easy getting truthful stories out of my Mom.  It's not that she's malicious, but rather that she's an odd blend of fanciful and forgetful, with a need to seem interesting, to have her life appear exciting.  It makes for unreliable tales.

But it's more than that.  I'm not sure what was going on with my Mom's family, but those people, including her, were so emotionally disconnected.  I have a few generic stories from her childhood, but nothing meaty, nothing that seems sincerely personal.  Even the tale of her firstborn, illegitimate and given up for adoption, smacks of untruth.  The details change, the story shifts, and I have no way of knowing--do I really have an older brother out there?

Today, I was talking to my Dad.  I had come across a story online about my Grandfather (his Dad), and I hadn't ever known.  It turns out my Grandpa and his younger sister spent time in an orphanage after coming to the States from Italy.  Their father had died, and their mother couldn't take care of them.  She was able to take them back after a time, but the idea of them being left in an orphanage because their widowed mother couldn't afford to feed them?

Sure does bring the whole Food Stamp debate home, doesn't it?  If those are the "good ol' days," I don't want 'em.

The conversation wandered from my Grandpa to his wife, my Grandma.  Her family was from Ireland, and her father died in prison.  I'd known that, known that he was locked away and died there.  What I didn't know?

Why he was locked up.  It turns out he'd sexually assaulted his daughter.  My Grandma.  The trial was hell on her, involved being examined in the courtroom for signs of "violation."

Suddenly her abusiveness and lifelong alcoholism make sense.

Upon reflection, I realize these are awful stories.  Orphanages and molesting fathers and dying in prison and grandmas drinking themselves to death and possibly make-believe siblings.  And I think maybe there's a good reason I was lacking family stories as a child.  And that begs the question:  do I share this stuff with my son?

I think the answer is "absolutely."  If nothing else, it gives him a solid understanding of how, exactly, the "good ol' days" weren't really all that good, and people we love can be pretty solidly flawed.  And we can love them anyway.

Except for Great-Grandpa Joe, the child molester.  I don't think we love him.


On the subject of family history and memories, I'm feeling weirdly short of time.  Having a growing lump in the soft tissue of your arm does that, I guess.  The blood sugar issues don't help.  I want to sit down with our boy and start labeling photos.  We have so many photos that aren't labeled, and I know just how frustrating that is to, years later, come across pictures from mom, dad, grandparents, etc., and not know who is in the picture.  So I need to get on that.  It's important.

Thirty-some-odd women in this picture, and I know who exactly ONE of them is.  

Impending government shut down.  Next month can either rock our world (in a good way) or devastate us.  We have no savings.  I have looming medical appointments that may well turn tragic (or not).  Hubby is EITHER looking at the first overtime pay we've had in two years OR being put out of work by those greedy, grubby, scuzzy wingnuts in Washington.  Either we'll finally be able to breathe again OR we'll be utterly toast.  And NOTHING I do will in any way influence the outcome.  

And that is SO hard for me.


Speaking of those asshats in Congress, here's Bernie Sanders giving a good review of what, exactly, it is those creatures are up to:

Yeah, that's about all the politics I have for tonight.  Too pitched and stressed to really get into it.


I've run across a gang of really crappy baby names lately--happens when you're trolling the obituaries for fellow high school alumni.  Names that make me want to scream.

Names like Wonzie LaShae and Tru-Jake.  And Apathy-Ann.

Yes, Apathy-Ann.  

Say it with me, would you?  THAT'S NOT A NAME!


Oh, and a quick note to the guy who found my husband's iPod in the gym at the office in town? Thank you.  My husband was devastated, he has 60+ gig of music on that thing (every bit of it paid for over the years, thank-you-very-much), and replacing it is out of the question right now.  He was very sad, and I was terribly sad for him.  Much like my iPad (which I won in a contest), if it breaks or is stolen, that's it--it's not going to be replaced.  So thank you for returning it.  It means a lot.

1 comment:

  1. There really are a few good people in the world. Glad he got his music back.