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Monday, 15 April 2013

KNOW YOUR FAMILY

We go through life surrounded by family and we think that we know all about them.
If nothing is said then we assume that we know it all.

I grew up surrounded by basically all of my mothers family
The back fence of my maternal grandparents house was part of our side fence and it was normal to take a short cut through their yard when going most places..
Unusually for the era, my mother went back to work when I went to school, so my grandparents were a big part of my life while I was growing up. They had immigrated from Scotland, so I learned a whole new language and about another culture.

Every "family" time of the year, my mothers family would gather at my grandparents house to celebrate but when my grandfather died, so did the gatherings.

My father was an only child and both of his parents died shortly after I was born.
I know that my paternal grandparents never owned a house and that my paternal great grandfather immigrated from Denmark, married and had two sons.
I know that my mother and father did not marry before the war because my father volunteered and that he could not send his allotment to my mother to save for their house, so it was sent to his mother to save. Unfortunately, she enjoyed the money and spent it all before my father was discharged.

There was so much I thought that I knew about my family and so little that I asked.
And now there is no one to ask.

My mother was in her eighties when she had a slight stroke---at first we just thought it was a fall until I realised that she had no memory of it and shortly after it----
Some hours later in hospital she was being quizzed by a doctor and all seemed to be back to normal until she told the doctor that she had her eye poked out when she was two years old. I was frustrated by that and said something about her having two eyes-----it was only then that I found out that my mother only had one eye-----I had never noticed, never asked and never been told----and that I then knew, embarrassed my mother.

Now I have had contact from my mother's cousin's daughter who is working on the family tree of my maternal grandfather and I realise how little I really know about that family
I had no idea that my grandfather's family immigrated to the United States but returned to Scotland.
I now know that my maternal grandmother was an illegitimate child and that most of her family did immigrate to the USA and Canada.

But then I had a phone call---a woman working on her husbands family tree and that is my fathers family. I gave her the information that I had only to be told that most of it was wrong.
Did my father not know or not care or did I not ask enough
Yes, my great grandfather did immigrate from Denmark but he had seven children from two wives.
I know he died before my father was born but surely my dad asked about him and other in the family.
My father rarely spoke about his parents---I have one photo of me as a baby in their arms but my grandfather died of a heart attack when I was six moths old-----or was my father keeping the big family secret.
I was shocked when this woman doing the family tree told me that my grandmother had committed suicide.
Nothing was ever said---no one ever told me.
I searched the State Archives today and read the coroners report that my grandmother, aged 61, had hung herself in the shed behind her house.
Why would she do that.---her sister was living with her, she lived close to my home, she had my father, her only son, she had two young grandchildren.
The doctors report said she had been depressed over the death of my grandfather eight months before.----very sad, but she could have had 20 years of being my grandmother.

I guess we just go through life with our families taking them for granted and taking everything that they tell us as gospel. Maybe for our own satisfaction we have a responsibility to ask more, be interested and proud of our lineage and make sure that we pass our personal history down the line.
You never know, you might have the missing link

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just done a trip to NZ and picked up so much Family history from my uncle and it is intriguing. I am going to copy everything I hae(about 5%) of what he had and distribute to family and kids so that everyone knows. Hanging in his shed which I didnt know he had was the bridle worn by Young Quinn when he won the interdoms. First time Ive seen that, great history.TB

Spiky Zora Jones said...

fab post.

My big sis did lots of leg work...like a real gumshoe and found out lots about my family. She did it on both side of the parents. She was able to go as far back as Crete/Greece to a rather brave women that traveled to Italy then to the Americas...me things a wonderful noval is waiting to be written from all she has gleaned through her years searching our history.
glad yo are working to find all there is on your family. I come from a huge family...a family of 12 just like my mother. I once asked mom why she had so many kids...she said she didn't have television.

ha...she was funny like that. she was a great mom and I guess she just loved having babies...

later honey. :)

bunny said...

When I was at uni I spent a lot of time avoiding coursework and instead researching my family tree.

Fascinating stuff.