Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Unintentional Stirring of the Pot — My Response

Note: Terry Thornton of “Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi” did a blog post about my two-part essay on “Finding Grandpa's Grave.” His post, and by extension mine, hit a nerve with one of Terry's genealogical friends. The friend had “spent all weekend brooding over this topic.” Terry posted a wonderful and eloquent answer to his friend's intense response. In order to understand my own response you will want to read Terry's original post along with his comments at the following link:
Terry sent me an FYI letting me know about his update. Having read what the friend had said, I went to bed last night with the friend's words and thoughts dancing in my head. This morning, I got up before work and wrote Terry a quick note with my thoughts. Terry has encouraged me to find a way to work this into a post.

The following is a cleaned up, expanded version of what I first wrote — Terry:

I once worked in an office with a young friend who never had a headache. Being someone who has been tortured with headaches all of my life, never having a headache was difficult for me to fathom. My young friend would ask me to tell her what the headache felt like. She would say she wished for a headache just once, so she would know first hand how it felt. (Luckily, for her, we worked in an office and not a lumberyard. If a two-by-four had been handy, I might have felt the need to oblige her.)

My friend, had no frame of reference, so no matter how hard I tried to describe a headache, the words would fall flat. I try to remember this whenever someone talks of things that I have no frame of reference for either.

My three siblings and I had very normal, very happy childhoods. So, while I would never be able to understand exactly the circumstances that caused Terry's friend to brood all weekend on this topic, as a fellow traveler on this road of life, I can be sympathetic and compassionate to his intense response.

Both of my parents come from divorced homes. In my father's case, he is the first in four generations to complete the task of fatherhood. His great-grandfather had a leg amputated in the Civil War, and lived much of the rest of his life in continuous pain. He died when my father's grandfather was 14 or 15. My father's grandfather was 39 when he died — grandpa was only 6. (Grandpa had lost his mother 3 years earlier to consumption). And of course, for those of you who read this blog, you already know grandpa's story.

I have always loved and admired my father, but it wasn't until I started delving into our family history that I realized what a quiet hero my dad is. How he figured out what it was to be a father, I will never completely understand though it didn't hurt that he married a wise woman. Dad not only figured it out, but he has done the job very well. Because of my dad and mother, my siblings and I had the best of childhoods.

But, even with the best of childhoods, my siblings and I still each have flaws, still each have our own inner demons. It is the nature of life.

As I have said before, I believe there are evil individuals and I believe there are saints. Most of us live in the gray area between. Each of us does the best that we can, given the hand that we are dealt. Sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we get it just right. Sometimes we soar and sometimes we crash, but most of the time we trudge — trudge, trudge, trudge. Without applause and only the occasional sympathetic hand, there is something almost noble in the way human beings keep putting one foot in front of the other. I hope that gives Terry's friend and anyone else for whom our posts stirred up unsettled feelings, some peace of mind.

This is me, then, trudging.

Until Next Time …

Note this post first published online, January 10, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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