Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Distant Past

My paternal grandmother. She was born in 1883. This is a photo of a photo and the clarity is not good. It is still pretty.

I got a letter in the mail from my brother tonight. I hate to admit that when I saw it, I thought "this can't be good news." But it was, kind of. He sent me photocopies of letters he had gotten back in the early 80s from my uncle. My uncle had done extensive work on our family tree. I had never seen these letters and they had a lot of new information - to me. I found his closing in one of the letters very touching, it said "I remember your mother by name at Mass every day, and in my Office and rosary. She was a wonderful woman." Yes, that's MY mother he's speaking of. Oh, and yes, he was a priest. He died in 1984, a few years after writing these letters.

I often think of this uncle in one-dimensional frames. He was intelligent, talented, prolific, brilliant... but I remember him for the things he did wrong. That is his legacy, unfortunately. Well, maybe not... he wrote some books that have been resurrected on Amazon.com. Maybe in time he will be remembered for those books, and not the other stuff. I don't know.

I went back to Ancestry.com with the new information I have. I filled in some blanks.

And being an alcoholic who has spent a lot of time thinking about alcoholism, I am struck by something.

Out of all the relatives, on both sides of the family, it appears there was only one line that was alcoholic. On my mother's side, there are prominent citizens, all the way back to the Revolutionary War! On half of my father's side, there are what appear to be good, solid citizens. Veterans of the Civil War, etc. And then there is my paternal grandfather, who died before I was born, the husband of the woman in the photograph. He was a metallurgist and was quite wealthy before the crash of 1929. His family is all "sketchy." They came from England, but scattered to the ends of the earth. His father died in Australia.

I just think it is odd that for all those solid people, I managed to be somehow genetically attracted to the flakey side. Not that they were all that flakey. They were successful, but in weird ways. All of the other grandparents families lived in the same town for generations... not so with this one line. They were all over the place.

Anyway, it is too late to be writing anything. But I had lunch with my daughter today at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. We splurged and had Vietnamese coffee - and now I am sleepless when I should be sound asleep.

But I am sober. And I will wake tomorrow, no matter how tired, without a hangover. And for that I am eternally grateful. The grace of God is a wonderful thing.

3 comments:

dAAve said...

Interesting.

Pammie said...

Loved this!
Your brother took his sweet time sharing that with you!!

Lou said...

Genetics..feels like the roll of the dice doesn't it.