Saturday, June 04, 2005

#40 - Family Hysteria, er, History

Friend Peggy Cahill at Speak Up for Truth blogs about Family History. Peggy's motivations are similar to mine, including mention in my Patriarchal Blessing about the work to be done. Peggy's been at it longer, going back to the day when Ancestry.com was little more than a bulletin-board service available on 300 baud acoustic couplers and staffed entirely by the only two computer science majors at BYU. They thought they were perpetuating a terrific hoax - like Compuserve or commercial-free cable TV. Who knew?

Anyway, go read her post. While I don't have any family dirt I'd rather not dig up (we long ago disproved any link between our family and John Wilkes Booth. Really.), I did have a Dad who was more tight-lipped about his past than Woodward and Bernstein used to be about Deep Throat. It was as though describing his childhood would somehow degrade the aura of demi-Dad he used to carry. About all I knew of Dad's childhood was that his dad was a dentist in Idaho Falls who drank too much of his own anesthetic, that they raised foxes for fur, and that his mom was a crack shot with a .22 rifle. More than that was hard to get out of Dad. Dad was not the kind of man you sat down with and said, "Tell me about your childhood, Dad." That kind of question would bring on the dreaded Stare of Doom. The Stare of Doom was never directed at you, personally. It was always directed at the TV, because you were daring to interrupt whatever he was watching in order to ask such an incredibly offensive question in the first place. Then, after making the TV quake in it's electronic booties for several minutes, he might answer, "It was tough." End of conversation. That would have been a tad close for Dad's comfort.

Eventually, we discovered that it wasn't so much that his life was all that bad; Dad really didn't know how to describe it in terms we could identify with. Life in a relatively small frontier town with an alcoholic father could not have been a picnic. When his mom moved him out to Los Angeles in the mid-30's, the culture shock must have been huge. Thus, to accomplish what Dad accomplished is nothing short of miraculous, and his legacy has been taken up now by a group of very interesting offspring.

My vision of Dad in heaven nowadays consists mostly of Dad tapping old dead ancestors on the shoulder and saying, "Go talk to my son. He needs something to do."

Gee, thanks, Dad. Now make 'em stop. They're starting to affect my sleep.

UPDATE: Is it just my over-wrought imagination, or is Peggy writing with a North Carolinian accent? Just askin'...

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