Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's A Family Affair

My mum was one of 12 children and my dad was one of......well more than one I think but I've honestly no idea. We tended to always be surrounded by my mum's side of the family and visits to and from my dad's side were as rare as a fashionable mullet.

So I had 7 maternal aunts and 5 uncles. The uncles were proper ones and none of those "oh here is your Uncle Festus who tells such funny stories. Stop crying and go sit on his knee, like a good boy."

All but 4 of those relatives were involved with farming in one way or another so we never went short of milk, potatoes, eggs or cow pats. Yes cow pats. Memories of my summer holidays seem to include avoiding cow pats, helping to bale hay, sorting potatoes and collecting hen and duck eggs. A lot of it was very hard manual work back in those sepia days and few if any of the next generation went into 'the family business' and most farm land was sold off or rented out.

8 of the family members never left N. Ireland and of the other 4 who moved to England, one became a nun who never climbed a mountain, forded a stream or even followed a rainbow.

She was just a nun and a fun nun at that.

4 of the 12 are still alive and kicking, although I suspect their kicking days are long gone. 2 of them, my uncles, never married and so give me hope that being single doesn't mean ending up in an early grave. I'm not in touch with any of them, aunts or uncles, and that's a shame really.

With 12 of them to start with, added to the catholic propensity for multiple births ( I won't cause a family scandal by including the 3 unmarried ones in this equation ), I'm sure I've relatives up the ying yang that I know nothing about. A family tree would be interesting and informative but I'm not the one to attempt it, considering I've never been 100% sure that I wasn't adopted !

Apart from our skin colour, and mine is getting darker the more I remain in Florida, it's hard to believe my brother and I are.....brothers. His accent, attitudes and appearance (he has hair for a start) suggest a brother from a different mother. Yes I hate that expression too.

But the main reason for not attempting to chart a family tree is because I'd even need help for the first level below each aunt and uncle. When I left home for England back in 1970, I pretty much lost contact with everyone and 40 years later, I only seem to be told about them when it's time to go to their funerals. I suppose I'm reaping the seeds of my indifference.

Family is important but I seem to be discovering that truism very late in life.


rhymeswithplague said...

I had no brothers and sisters, and know nothing at all of my birth father or his family. My mother was youngest of four siblings, and I have just four maternal first cousins. But counting the man who raised me, and his family, and all the marriages and second and third marriages and offspring of offspring all around, and my wife's family thrown in, there are 884 people in my our Family Tree Maker genealogical file. Many of them are long dead, of course. Pity, though, very few of them are related to me by blood. My own direct descendant line at this time is three children and six grandchildren.

Daphne said...

I think it IS hard to keep in touch with the extended family - - though Facebook is making it easier now! I'm in touch with people through Facebook whom I hardly ever see and it's good to hear about them and their activities. But when we were in our twenties it was much harder. And sometimes, let's face it, there are family we just don't have much in common with - and friends whom we do.

jay said...

It's very hard to keep in touch these days, but in fact genealogy is rewarding, not only in terms of interest, but you seem to find relatives you didn't know you had - and some of them even turn out to be interesting people!

Of course, you have to take the rough with the smooth, there. ;)

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