Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Climbing trees

(A tree from our family farm)


I can join the DAR now. Not that I ever especially wanted to, but I might. Ancestry.com is full of information, much more now than several years ago when last I joined. I do so love it when someone else does all the genealogy research for me, I'm just not that motivated.*  I've just this hour discovered my great-great-great-great-grandfather, a one Capt. John Floyd, "an active officer in the Revolutionary War."

That's very interesting, but what I've found to be much more interesting is how many mothers and fathers I really have. I don't just have the two, I've got 126 by the time I reach back as far as Capt. Floyd, and he's nearly living memory to me. What??? Oh, yeah. You see, family memories are tangible and transmitted a very, very long way.

My great great grandfather, of the great grandmother I actually knew, had a dreadful experience of losing two children to cholera in a season of floods and rains. The coffins of both had floated back up to the surface after the burials and he had had to go back in and weight the coffins from the inside and rebury his most beloved and dreadfully lost young adult children. It was a trauma that grieved him the rest of his life. Afterwards, he built a little house over their graves so they would be safe and protected in their rest ever after. That little house still stands and my father takes pains to see that it's not treated like a tool shed - and so will I.


That true sorrow and desire to protect what remains of two such promising young folk was passed to me thru the voices of my grandparents, who knew him and felt the loss of friends and relations that should have been theirs as well. My grandparents were born in the late 19th century and were no farther away from the Revolutionary War than I am from their youth now. As William Faulkner said, "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." Non-Southerners like to dismiss that fact as some idiosyncrasy of our rebellious history, but if you have any sense at all you will look around to discover the ground and framework of your life are all integral to a past you might have dismissed.

The good news is the past and soil you draw from today is much bigger than you had planned. At least 63 mothers and 63 fathers that I might be able to trace all had lives and strengths and legacies that are bequeathed to me, even though I might only discover a few. I'm not boxed in by the two or four or six that I've hugged and kissed goodnight, there are many more whose skills and capacities I carry - I just don't know it yet. Yes, I've got one mother who really irritated me, but I've got several more I found just today that raised big families, lived long lives, and were renown for their love and one more place at the table.



I plan to add the photographs of all the ancestors that I have and leave the access open to the public, for all my distant relatives to enjoy. I hope it inspires them to add their best and oldest photos, too. I don't know how to add such stories as I know, but I'm sure I've got some third+ cousins who could throw a few good ones in the mix to share. I'm still trying to adjust to having a Capt. John Floyd as an ancestor, but I'm wondering what his wife Nancy Ann was like as well. She lived to be nearly 100!




*With the exception of the Mormons - they load up all sorts of good information, then slap it all together with people who are obviously no relation and presumably baptize you into their church decades after your death. Fair warning: I come from a long line of foot washing Baptists, French Huguenot refugees, and brush arbor Methodists. We are washed in the blood, not your temple, and all slander against that blood will be answered in due time. Mind your own house.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Motto? Theme? Word?



Came across this little post here




and I've decided on this year's theme. Last year it was Strength [Resilience]. It took the whole year, but I believe I got what I was looking for. My leg took on some really good healing and I got my head under control so I could keep turning it back to what I wanted it to do. Sort of like this fellow:





Did you hear the trainer say something about "nose soft on the bridle"? That's about responsiveness and obedience, which in my case would be becoming responsive and obedient to myself, learning to turn back and face my issues - and neither bolt nor freeze as the terror overwhelms me.


This year's motto is MORE................wait a minute! I'm not telling YOU! Some things about myself are just for me, telling someone else just invites them in to mess it up, scrawl all their ideas all over it like graffiti and ruin the pleasure of it. But I've got it written down and I know where I'm going with it, perhaps we'll meet here next year and I'll tell you what it was and how it went.

....24 hours later....


Yeah, so, sitting at my home desk browsing the web is still as dangerous as ever. I wasted most of the day on ancestry.com, BUT, I did find some awesome things that I've been wondering about my whole life. You see, Maggie had a first marriage that seemed to color the rest of her life. It was brief, but it certainly had a huge effect on her life.

She always said she did it to please her mother, that her husband's family had money, and he treated her absolutely horribly.  I found his obituary on a general online search, and that alone seemed to take the stories out of the realm of mythology into reality. (Let's call him "Mugs," eh?) There were quite a few names in the obit, so joining ancestry.com became reasonable, and that's where I found a photo of the evil Mother-In-Law. I can see Maggie's point.

I also found addresses for the family business, which 65 years later still exists, surrounded by a whole lot of nothing mostly populated by single mobile homes. A few more general web searches and google maps yielded what I believe was his family home. It was a very nice house for its day, still is, two stories, on the main highway - and yet it also seems to be surrounded with single wide trailers at distances that imply other family members.

Really, y'all? Oh, I know how rural communities work, if you only get a half acre out from the main house because you can't afford to live any better, then just move in a mobile home. There's a kid on the way already and you've got to them settled and everyone working...

Oh, bloody hell, let's just come out with it - they're really all trailer park trash and I can see why Maggie got the freaking hell out of there. Yes, he was truly emotionally and physically abusive and, yes, his mother was a self righteous bitch who made Maggie and Mugs live in an apartment over the garage. But the real issue was that she could stay there with a bunch of obnoxious, lying morons or do whatever it took to get out of there and find some other life. So, she bolted, baby on the way and all.

I think she did exactly the right thing, and the shame and pain of it colored the rest of her life. Colored, as in tainted her psyché with stains she could never wash out. She was always in some sort of reaction to elements the rest of us knew nothing about. All sorts of sayings and advice she would so often repeat make much more sense to me now. She wanted repayment from a new family who had done nothing to her, and since that got her no satisfaction, she abandoned them in search of causes and political philosophies that would wreak the havoc she couldn't acquire in person.

I get it now, Maggie, I get it. But I'm not you, no matter if my voice often sounds the same, no matter if we like the same kinds of music, no matter if I'm good at writing and you were good at writing, I'm still not you. So you take back the responsibility for your life and relationships and mistakes, and I'm only going to be responsible for myself and my life and my mistakes.

I don't have to save you, making you happy wasn't my job - that was your job.
I don't have to do life "better than you did" - this isn't a mutual experience, my life does not redeem yours.
I've found out all the things about you that you thought you had hidden away for eternity, and none of them make you special, none of them make you powerful, they were just your chains - and I'm not going to carry them for you anymore.

I'm not carrying YOU around anymore.