“She wakes up each morning feeling like she has nothing to do. No routine. No purpose.”
Lisa Genova: ‘Love Anthony’
I read these words this morning and thought, that is exactly ME. That is me when I wake without that feeling of excitement about hurrying to a sewing, writing or art project, or without an appointment, or wanting to return to a novel that is drawing me with the power of the tide.
I do enjoy sitting, apparently doing nothing, but my mind has to be engaged in creative thought for me to relax.
I keep a pile of six to eight library books on hand to alleviate the desolate feeling of nothing-to-do. Mind you, there is always housework or organizing a closet or room, but at this stage of my life – been there, done that.
Our journey thro this life is tumultuous with its constant ups and downs, its real or imagined slights. We all barter, in one way or another, to maintain a relatively consistent feeling of well being.
I thrive on passion – for opportunity, creativity, my family.
The alternative to feeling purposeful is, for me, depression. So, in order to ward off that monster, I always have a multitude of projects on the go.
Early in my marriage, it was one project only – needlework. Then I needed a new interest and, for a few decades, it was researching and publishing our genealogy. With that completed, I felt lost, until my creative juices latched onto sketching with pen and painting in watercolour. Florals are my thing.
Gradually, after several years, I began to feel I had said all I could in that media. My search was on for new artistic horizons.
I don’t know if it is because I am now in my early 70’s, but I now seem to flit from one project to another. Whatever it is, I am artistically all over the place – a true jack of all trades, master of none.
But there is nothing as satisfying and addictive as waking to a passionate urge to create.
That is what keeps my juices flowing and keeps me loving my life.
It has been awhile since I logged in to my Inknpetals blog and began to write. In part, this is because of a busy summer, now a thing of the past, but also because I have been mentally floating between many projects and thoughts of projects. But my friend Gerda’s call, the day before yesterday, inspired me to put fingers to keyboard today. She phoned to ask if all was well with me – she was concerned because of my lack of online activity lately.
I go in cycles, concentrating on one activity for awhile. Other times I have too many things on the go at once. When that happens, I shut down, curl up and read 8 mystery, detective, forensic novels in two weeks. (Yup – happened end of August!)
I have a new grand child about to be born in less than a month, so many thoughts revolve around the anticipation of this delicious event – our first babe in the family in more than 11 years … and Greg and my 10th grandchild.
I am working on her ancestral lineage – her family tree …
– shopping for wee items to be opened at upcoming showers …
. fingering through memory-laden baby clothes from 38 to 45 years ago, that were worn by my babies, and some were knitted by my own Mom . purchasing delicate, baby-friendly Ivory Snow to wash some of the treasures . . finding a friend who actually still irons so an exquisite dress of the finest ’embroidered lawn’ will brought back to its glorious potential.
Most responses to my query about who loves to iron, brought guffaws that could be loudly heard on the written, virtual page. I haven’t owned an iron for 20 years.
Sally has come through. I am dropping by next week, coffee in hand and ready for a chat while she irons the dainties.
I have been yearning to knit a blanket for my newest grandchild. That entailed searching for my needles to see if I already have what I need. That quest, in turn, led to multiple bags of partially finished projects, wool bundles, patterns, knitting & crochet books …..
So what to do? I start a KNITTING & CROCHET group – you know – like-minded women who can support each other with glitches, laugh and have fun together. We had our first get-together yesterday. Sue, Wendy and Marion were unanimous in agreeing that I had to complete one or more projects before beginning another. So baby will have to wait for the trendy, chunky wool cover I envision creating in the softest grey, using ginormous needles.
In her blog, “More Quilt & Novel Nonsense”, Anna Scott Graham wrote: “In this rather techie world, aged pastimes are slipping from our consciousness. It’s easier to virtually do so much else, but what else is actually being accomplished?”
An idea to chomp on. I love any creative outlet – writing, painting (tho’ I have not been doing much of that of late), genealogy (love the sloothing), journaling, as well as additional sedentary pursuits like music and reading. I love a mixture of new, addictive technology and the tactile feel of bamboo needles and natural cotton, silk and wool skeins. I love walking my puppy, Duffy, on days like today when the roar of the waves from Georgian Bay, three blocks away, instilled their strength in me. I love to walk when my arthritic feet are calm, when the gentle drizzle blows against me and the few fallen leaves remind me that autumn has indeed begun.
So, Gerda, I am well. I am happy. I am accomplishing a bit and enjoying the strains of ‘The (Canadian) Tenors’ as I wrap this up. Enjoy your Spa in Italy, girl. Such a furcken hardship that will be 🙂 ! I wish.
Hugs to any and all who read this … Tell me what you are up to in your life.
From: paupst jim
Subject: YOUR WORK
Date: 26 March, 2014 7:22:47 AM EDT
To: Paupst Linda
Terry was helping me hang paintings in my new condo which has a surface area greater than 41 King St.
I remarked to him that your not receiving the Order of Ontario was an egregious mistake by the selection committee.
What an extraordinary canon of work you produced.
Big T totally agreed.
Many of the recipients received the award for work in a particular political party, what a joke.
In life, the odds against are 7/5, unless you are connected, an intoxicating irony.
Despite all of this, your work stands.
. . .
From: Paupst Linda <lrpaupst@….>
Subject: Re: YOUR WORK
Date: 27 March, 2014 11:09:46 AM EDT
To: paupst jim <jimpaupst@….. >
Good Morning Jim,
What a lovely note to read as I drink my morning coffee. Thank you for this.
I appreciate the irony you mentioned. But, I was so surprised by the nomination itself, and I felt so honoured, more than at any other time in my life, so winning was truly of no consequence to me. It was a wonderful feeling to know that the work and the ‘canons’ themselves were appreciated. It was more than I expected, and it was all that my soul needed.
There has been enough time past since publication, that I look at the four volumes now and have difficulty believing I accomplished all of that. I used to procrastinate to such a degree that I seldom finished anything. But this project nagged at me and I feared kicking the bucket before recording all the data, stories and photos I had acquired.
I hope you are enjoying your new condo. Hanging paintings means that your digs will feel like ‘home’. As least I hope that is the case.
I trust you are well and enjoying life. I was in Toronto yesterday with a friend, Sally, to attend the One of a Kind Show at the Energy Center. It was a disappointment – nothing like the glorious items of years past that used to entice the senses.
Accomplish something new, enjoy laughter and camaraderie.
Zendoodle Workshop Participant, Sue Payne (below) with the Zendoodle she created after only one hour.
“It was relaxing and so very much fun. I never thought I would be able to do this. I recommend this (workshop) to anyone.”
Join the Fun
HOST YOUR HOME PARTY or WORKSHOP, NOW
1. ZENDOODLE WORKSHOPS
Host a HOME WORKSHOP with your friends, family & neighbours and learn to create ZENDOODLES! Awaken your creative instincts. Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, you will have fun, relax and create art. This is art form that is surprisingly easy, meditative and creative. And you will go home with a sense of satisfaction, a completed picture, and gift ideas.
Cost – $30. for 2 hour party or workshop. NO FEE for Hostess
2. GENEALOGY WORKSHOP
Do you want to record your history, but don’t know where to begin?
Host a GENEALOGY WORKSHOP in your home. Invite friends, neighbours, co-workers, and learn to create a basic GENEALOGY. A basic genealogy (a ‘family tree’) is fun and simply done. You will leave with a basic genealogy, and skills to add as much or as little as you wish. Your parents, siblings and children will appreciate that you cared enough to record and preserve the story of your family. As well, a personal genealogy is a unique gift idea for those you love.
Cost – $30. for 2 hour party or workshop. NO FEE for Hostess
3. CHILDREN’S BIRTHDAY ART PARTIES
Book a ZENDOODLE Art Party for your child’s next Birthday Party – something different, fun & creative.
“UNCONSECRATED GROUND” (2) … POSTSCRIPT ” Wonders of the www
I never cease to be amazed at how intimately the internet can connect us – sometimes with inevitable sad results, but more importantly and more frequently, with surprising, happy, amazing results.
I first learned of my great aunt Katie Dietz’s 1903 death, in 1988 when I met Velda Gilbert. Velda told me the sad story.
I was haunted by Katie’s story. How did she become pregnant? Who was the father? Was is it unrequited love; was the man married; was it a rape? What happened to him – did he suffer any repercussions or did he go on to marry, have children, and live !?
Also, I was haunted by the thought of an unmarried great-great aunt, single at 29 years of age, living on a rural Muskoka farm with her immigrant Dad and a brother. No woman to talk to – Mom dead a few years earlier, sisters dead or married and away to raise their own families. How lonely for Katie. No cars. Walking, or horse and buggie, the only mode of transport for reaching a train station, or visiting family a few towns away.
Katie’s story to me was symbolic of all women who found themselves isolated, pregnant, not understanding much about how their bodies worked; feeling the intense social and religious intolerance and disgust for an unmarried, pregnant girl or woman, with no blame placed on the man involved. The unfairness of it still stuns me, causes my teeth to clench and my chest to tighten.
Now in 2013, one hundren and ten years following Katie’s suicide, another connection, this one due to the internet, and Katie is once again talked about and remembered ……..
“Hello Linda, I came across your story entitled,” Unconsecrated Ground“, today. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone else, other than my family, knew about Katie, so long after the fact. Well written and presented.
I was in Germania in 2007 visiting family and I walked down to have a visit with Katie. I don’t recall seeing the stone there anymore but my wife says there was a small portion still visible, the rest having sunk into the soil. I felt very uncomfortable with the fact that she was buried down in that corner all by herself. Times were different in those days I guess. Still!! You do of course know the whole story I assume? Very tragic.
My great great grandfather Heinrick Gilbert was the first internment in the cemetery in 1872 and the land for church and cemetery was donated by my great grandfather William Gilbert. The big old house across from the Church was the original Gilbert homestead although the old section of the house had been torn down in the 1970’s.
I am kin to Susannah Dietz who married a first cousin , Valentine Schinbein. Also , my uncle Bob Gilbert often spoke of friend Billy Dietz. Nice chatting! Gary Gilbert
It is so wonderful to hear from you Gary. You have no idea. This again validates Katie’s existence. And to learn that your Aunt Velda is still alive – so very wonderful and amazing. Please give her a hug from me & tell her how very much I appreciated the serendipitous moment when I knocked on her door and she was there and so willing to share the incredible story of Katie. It has always haunted me. I am so pleased that you touched base. You mention Susannah & Billy Dietz – I have William b 1875 who lived on the farm with Adam & Katie when all the rest had gone, married, etc. But who are Billie & Susannah? Who were there parents – Conrad’s line? May I share your note on my story?
Gary said yes, so there you have it – the world wide web bring together unlikely people and stories.
See original post: “Unconsecrated Ground” . Good Blood . Katie 1903 .” posted 2013/04/08 https://inknpetals.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/unconsecrated-ground-good-blood-chapter-1/
It has been a year and a half in our new home, in a new community, and we still love it here in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. This lovely, lake-front town on the southern shore or Georgian Bay feels like home.
BOTTOM – We are gathered around ‘The Robertson’s’ sign made by my brother, Steve. L-R Steph, Dad, Andrew behind, Mom, me, Greg Jr, Jo, my brother Greg (yup! – 3 Greg’s in the family). Carrie is missing from last 2 photos – she was working at Clevelands House in the Muskokas that summer.
All our 40 years in Waterloo Ontario, where my husband Greg and I settled and raised our family, I never felt at home – that is … I felt at home in my homes, but not in the community. Does that make sense? And it was a lovely community, clean, tidy, progressive with two universities, but it was land locked. It did not feel like home to me. And I didn’t even realize it until we moved here, to Wasaga Beach in 2012.
I knew I had missed water. My soul yearned for a lake or river or a boardwalk along water. I knew that. I knew I felt restless. Looking back, I think that is one reason I initiated change – we moved throughout Waterloo Region every 5 to 12 years. But, until we moved here on the South Shore of Georgian Bay, I didn’t realize the need was so fundamental. Sounds as though I was sad, but I wasn’t. There was a longing though.
We enjoyed raising our family in Kitchener-Waterloo. We had lovely homes and lived our lives full of happy and the inevitable miserable times promised us in life …
Our nine adorable Grandchildren 2004
We have enjoyed lifelong friendships … a few, really good friends, who stuck with us through all our joys and frailties …
Nursing friends for 51 years – Gerda, Jan, Ellie, Sue & me.
Greg and I are both homebodies who love home more than anywhere in the world, but we also love to visit, party and enjoy our family and friends.
However, in my case, it is the solitude that has allowed me to publish four genealogy volumes over the years while raising five children, working part-time, enjoying needlepoint, crewel work, art; moving too many times; and being involved in community organizations.
So, here we are, full circle for me, back to a home near the water I love. You know, from inside my home on a windy day (with windows open), I can hear the waves crashing against the shore. On a Saturday summer night, I can hear the music wafting through the air, the couple of blocks from the beach to our home.
What I have learned is that home is really important. And even more so … if you are fortunate (as I realize I am), the people who fill your life can enrich it immeasurably.
One of life’s perfect days! Joanna & I
The loves of my life- Carrie, Greg Sr, Stephanie, me, Joanna, Andrew & Greg Jr front. They are my home my joy. Each is a ‘good’ person, socially responsible, industrious, committed to family, proud, fun loving. How lucky am I!
My heart and home are where my family and friends are.
In 1968, my third child was born in as many years. I loved my babies and had always wanted a large family. My parents had eight and ten siblings, yet for the first eight years of my life I was an only child. That is another story. However, I was lonely. Every night on bended knee beside my bed (remember when we used to do that?), I prayed for a little brother or sister.
So, here I was with my sweet ‘rosebud’, Stephanie, a sister for Caroline ‘Carrie’ – not yet three, and Andrew, not yet two years old.
I began to wonder what genes they inherited to make them who they were and, in part, who they would become.
My mother’s line was familiar to me. Grandma Letittia May Wood King, kept photos and documents of both her and her husband, Ernie’s relatives and ancestors. She was so happy and grateful when I asked her about the family history. She was anxious that her information would not be lost, so she lovingly provided documents and relayed information.
However on my father’s side, ‘though I well knew and loved my Robertson grandparents … I knew Grandpa Robertson‘s father had come from Scotland, and knew Grandma Robertson‘s family was ‘Deitz‘ … I didn’t know much else. But Dad was an amateur photographer and loved creating family albums, and I had those for dozens of long dead relatives. But, as with many found photos, they were not identified. My Mother and Aunt Mazel helped with some.
The ancestral roots of my husband, Greg Paupst, the father of my children, were also unknown to me.
The lingering question in my mind would not go away, ‘What kind of people did my children come from? What genes did they inherit?’ So, in the fall of 1968, my 4.2 decade-long quest began.
My father-in-law, Charlie Paupst, was also passionate about his roots. He was able to rhyme off names and stories on his maternal lines. On his paternal line, he knew of a distant uncle / genealogist who had traced back five generations from my husband. Charlie’s cousin had a copy which she generously shared with me. Then I researched farther.
My mother-in-law, Bridget Denvir Paupst, was Irish. She and nine siblings had immigrated to Canada from County Down in 1925. There was a huge family still in Ireland and through many Atlantic Crossings, we all came to know and love each other. One cousin Moira Gilmore, was instrumental in helping retrieve copies of precious documents and photos to augment the Denvir story.
I bought a large scrap-book and began.
I began with myself. I read in a 1968 Chatelaine magazine article that it is always best to begin with yourself. I listed my birth date & place, education, marriage date & place, and to whom – then, on a separate page, I listed the same information for my husband, Greg.
I began at Generation 2 – Greg + I, was completed. (Generation 1 – was for my children.)
Generation 3 – our PAUPST, ROBERTSON, DENVIR + KING parents (4 ancestors). Below my information, I recorded my parents, dates, places, other pertinent information, interesting facts, stories. Then I recorded my husband’s parents and their parents, etc. following his data.
Before long, I was becoming confused with repeated first names in every generation of every family – all the Robert Denvirs, the John and Scott Robertsons, and so on. I had to devise a way to see at a glance whether that John was a direct ancestor, or a cousin or uncle John in a collateral line. So, I used ‘upper case’ for my children, grandchildren and each of their direct ancestors. Now, ‘JOHN’ was an ancestor; ‘John’ was a brother, cousin, uncle, etc. In addition, I attempted to always write the person’s birth date after their name. That also helped identify which JOHN it was (see above photo of the four generations).
I always identify women by their maiden names. This is so important for tracing their ancestors, and it establishes an identity separate from that of their husbands’.
What I soon realized, is that the number of ancestors doubles each generation you go back. A genealogist friend, Doris Lemon, gave me the following chart.
Over time, I progressed to a typewriter to organize my data, then, by the 1980’s Greg bought me a spanking new, high-tech, Commodore computer. Over the years, Greg and I spent thousands of dollars on computer upgrades, printers, scanners, hundreds of reams of paper, ink cartridges, phone calls to distant family for information, photo developing, photocopying at Kinko’s. I progressed from a scrapbook to binders for the four primary families – my husbands’ maternal & paternal lines, and my maternal & paternal lines.
The binders contain ‘family sheet’ records, documents, original photos. I have these today, but I have also disposed of a ton of paper, notes and printed revisions at each stage.
The first ‘real’, edited and formatted, 645 page genealogy, contained all four families. It was a definite milestone. I published it in 2000 …
My intention was to create beautiful books, well-organized and thought out, filled with visuals, that my family would be interested in picking up, perusing, and to which they would feel a personal attachment. I created a Dedication, a Forward, Introduction and Contents pages; lovely Title Pages, a complete Index listing every person in each genealogy.
I realized that our family, like any other, consists of all manners of people – various religions and no religion, various ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, occupations, professions – “diversity to broaden our minds and woven together to create a rich tapestry of humanity.” And that makes me proud. I am also proud that my children embrace the diversity with open minds and open hearts.
And then … the real work began!
To this point, I had concentrated on the direct ancestral lines back from Greg and I. But I knew, that to appeal to distant cousins in each branch of the family, I needed to publish separate volumes with more coverage of collateral lines. Collateral family lines are those containing the siblings of your direct ancestor in each generation, and their descendants.
I began compiling our King family book first. It seemed logical to begin there because I had easy access to each branch of the family and because most of Mom’s ten siblings were still living. So more research began – appeals for up-to-date birth and death names, dates and places, any particular stories they would like included, and current photos for each family.
Formatting was a huge job for me, but it became easier as I learned what my new computer was capable of (dangling participle !!) Again, my goal was to have consistency on every page, in every section of the book.
I created charts. Ancestral Charts showed my mother and her King ancestors,
and I created Descendant Charts – from my Grandfather, Ernie King, down to each descendant born by my publishing date in 2003.
I scanned in thousands of photographs, being sure to have one of every current descendant so he or she could experience a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves, and see at a glance where they fit in this family.
I emailed and snail-mailed letters to every family member I knew and some I had not ever met. I explained my genealogy book-in-the-making, provided sample pages, a price and an order form. I explained that there would not be a second printing. I required orders up front so I would know how many copies I would create.
Next came serious Editing! I printed several copies as I made editing changes. But I was too close to the project and was missing things. I sent 80 pages at a time to Timmins, Ontario where my nursing classmate, Della Fellows Milne generously offered to do the necessary editing. And boy was she tough. She didn’t let me get away with anything. Every number had to be written in full; grammar, spelling, run-on sentences were noted, circled in red and sent back for correction.
Printing was the next huge phase. I have used Family Tree Maker genealogy soft wear since I began, regularly upgrading as I went along. But once I had established a format, I didn’t want to upgrade further in case it distorted pages. So, whether it was that, or whether my current computer was again at capacity, or whatever, I was unable to print the entire 436 pages in PDF format, so getting a printing company to print the document was impossible. One sweet man eventually spent a lot of time and ingenuity for me, and, with his staff, got the job done against company protocol.
Next, I delivered my newly printed KING manuscripts (80 of them) to a bookbinder who worked with me to achieve the results I wanted.
Finally, exultant, I began delivery of the finished product. Many of the King family were in North Bay, Ontario, so I drove to my Mom’s and hand-delivered orders there. I mailed other orders C.O.D. (cash on delivery) via Canada Post – to Ottawa Ontario, Nova Scotia, and so on. That was 2003.
Then, I went through the same process three more times!
DENVIR (523 pages) was published in 2004.
ROBERTSON (529 pages) in 2006. And after a breather and more problems,
PAUPST (620 pages) was completed in 2010.
In 2011, I received the honour of a lifetime. Several cousins, my brother-in-law, my children, grandchildren and my husband all submitted letters nominating me for the Order of Ontario in appreciation of four decades of genealogy work. There was a long list of nominees more worthy than I, but in truth, it really is an honour just to be nominated. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness. That, and the wonderful letters I received from family in the United States, Ireland, Ontario, was concrete evidence that my labour of love was appreciated by many.
My appreciation to all who assisted along the way, especially fabulous family; my husband’s cousin, Moira Gilmore of County Down, Northern Ireland; and my friends Pat Tennyson and Doris Lemon. It has been a trip!
I hope some of you will begin your own genealogy project. It is filled with creativity and sloothing. And it is never too late to start. You don’t have to work on it for four decades as I did – just record what you know, realizing that once you die, your knowledge of your parents, grandparents and possibly even a great-grandparent or two, dies with you. This is important to consider.
When you do begin, question the oldest relatives first. They can often provide insight into one or more generations back, even specific knowledge of other names and dates or the specific parish, town, country where prior ancestors originated.
So have fun. Begin your own family’s genealogy and leave a legacy for your descendants.
This had been home to five generations in the same family. The bones of the hundred-year-old house were foot-thick stones quarried right there in Dundas Valley. Crumbling mortar wound its way between the stones like a shallow creek in a rock-bed. At some point, a wooden addition was added to her front. This is where Bridget and Chas raised their four boys, the house squarely set on King Street, in Dundas, Ontario.
A century earlier, in the 1850’s, Chas’ maternal great-grandparents, Mary and Michael Burns, saved each dollar Michael earned as a cooper, or barrel maker, to build this house. Mary brought a hollow china statue from Scotland … a rougish Scottish Highlander decked out in his plaid. Tilted on his head was a flat wool cap centered with a red pom-pom. They called him Scottie. What made this figurine a story passed down through seven generations was Mary’s creative use of Scottie. He became their bank. Mary stuffed hard-earned bills up his middle, until there was enough to build their home.
Main Street in Dundas consisted of a few, modest stone or wood-frame dwellings and a dirt road. There were no sidewalks. Gardens flourished at the side or in back of each home yielding enough beans, peas, turnips, carrots, potatoes to be put down to carry each family through the winter. Mary and Michael even planted two chestnut trees. Or did they seed themselves? But, in any event, chestnut trees grew for a century and towered in their back yard, spreading overhead like majestic fans.
When Mary and Michael died, their daughter Mary raised her children there, then her daughter Mary did the same. And so it went, generation to generation. This was the home where Chas was raised. The aging stone edifice was like a member of the family, an aging Grandam who had served the generations well. It had seen their children born. It laid out their dead, and hidden within its stone walls, there existed a legacy of laughter and sadness.
Generation 2 ~ Mary Burns (daughter of Mary + Michael Burns) + William McGrath
Generation 3 ~ Ernie Peters + Mary ‘Minnie’ McGrath (daughter of Mary Burns + William McGrath)
After Chas and Bride married in 1936, his mother built a new brick home next door in which to retire and gave the dowager to the newlyweds.
By this time, roads were widened and paved. Sidewalks installed, taking away from front yards, so now homes often butted up against the sidewalks. Throughout their formative years, Chas and Bride’s four sons cracked, peeled and open nuts which fell from those tall chestnut trees that grew from seedlings a hundred years earlier when their great-great grandparents built the house in which they now lived. The soft, prickly green coverings of the chestnuts, once removed, exposed perfection of smooth-as-velvet mahogany shells. Those plentiful chestnuts covering the yard like a bumpy blanket, provided many hours of play and mischief for the boys.
And Scottie was still in evidence, on their grandmother, Mary Burns McGrath’s piano in the brick house next door. Scottie was always in view, always watching over the family.
The century-old home provided a plethera a memories. But it was like an aging dowager that dished out both humour and horror. Through the nineteen forties, decrepitude attacked the crumbling Grandam who had, by now, lived to a ripe old age. In post-depression, small-town Ontario, Bride and Chas, with their family of boys, did not have the monetary wherewithal to renovate. As a result their house dissembled into disrepair.
Her home was also the bane of Bridget’s life.
Her exasperated mantra told the tale, “This house is so old, it doesn’t keep out the cold. It just sifts out the lumps!”
Rats from Desjardins Canal and the nearby open dump, frequently found their way through openings in the old, foot-thick-stone walls, where mortar had crumbled away. Gavin tells of once using his pajama top to “bag” a rat and of Chas running out of his bedroom, stark naked, broom-in-hand, to divert one that was jumping for Gavin’s gonads.
The chill within those stone walls was another horrific but now laughingly told part of the memory pool of the four boys. Hot water bottles were placed in their cold beds to provide fleeting warmth. But one night, John’s fell out of the bed he shared with his brother, Gavin. In the morning, it was frozen solid on the floor.
Generations 4 & 5 – Bridget + Chas abt 1945 with three of their four boys. The youngest was not yet born.
Education and laughter were an obligatory part of survival at ’41 King’, as well as a dose of Celtic eccentricity and drama. Bridget was the Celt. Being intelligent and being tall were prerequisites for inclusion into her club. She foolishly forgot that her husband Chas and her one son John did not possess her tall-Duffy-genes. Despite that, she lined the boys up, back to back, to measure who was taller, as though that indicated a measure of their worth. The obsession with height and the back-to-back ritual was imposed upon anyone who crossed her threshold. Bridget was proud of her boys and did not hesitate to recount their charm and superiority to any available ear. Bride also bragged about the son who was not so tall since, in her psyche, even height placed second to accomplishment.
The family was poor. There was no furnace, only a space heater in the living room with pipes running across the dining room to the outside. One cold winter night, John, in trying to capture a little warmth, turned the heater to its highest setting. A pipe exploded and soot, accumulated for years, spewed forth, covering everyone and everything with its velvety black blanket.
Bride, responded in a deservedly dramatic outburst, “Mother of God, this can’t be happening!”
John remembers, “I got shit from everyone, even the squirrels.”
Their home had one cold water tap, no bathtub. Hot water was available only if heated on the stove. Hygiene for the family of six consisted of sponge baths or a run next door to Nana’s for a real bath. There were no closets, no doors, neither on the bathroom nor the bedrooms. An ineffective curtain provided only occasional privacy. But privacy was not a requirement in the life of four rambunctious brothers. In fact, each would take turns whisking the curtain open at the most inopportune times. As a result, Gavin is still obsessed with privacy. He locks his bedroom and bathroom doors to this day, seeking what was denied him in youth.
As mentioned, poverty was a fact of life.
Jim recounts, “We were so poor that if I didn’t wake up on Christmas morning with a hard-on, I wouldn’t have had anything to play with!”
Within the stone walls of the century-old home there was plenty of food on the table, Irish blarney and upheaval. The tumbling-down home afforded a most unlikely genesis for four successful young men. That stone dowager, that aged Grandam, sifted out lumps of self-pity and sloth, and in their place incubated eccentricity, outrageous humour and success. And today, decades later, the memory of Scottie resonates in the minds of the four brothers, a symbol of perseverance and frugality.
Over and over, Grandma Kincaid told us, “You come from good blood”.
She wasn’t telling us that we had blue blood, but that we each had the innate strength to pick ourselves up when we fell. She was telling all her large family that much was expected of us and that we could overcome any obstacle with the grit and perseverance in our genetic make-up.
‘You come from good blood.’ The simple, repetitive litany made me feel proud and reluctant to disappoint my family. It inspired me. I believed it. I descended from generations of strong, hard-working, mostly honorable (but inevitably flawed) people.
Knowing I came from ‘good blood’ allowed me keep my head above water when life’s difficulties were shoving me beneath the surface.
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
My Genealogy Search
I long believed it was necessary discover my own roots and those of my husband. This was possibly, in part, due to Grandma’s teaching. But, also, when I began to have children of my own, I knew I needed to discover which of my ancestors’ genes were replicated in me and in my descendants. Knowing the past, helps us understand the present.
In my four genealogy volumes, I wrote a note to my descendants, present and future. It read, in part:
“My wish is, that learning about your ancestors will enrich your lives and give you insight into some of your own traits and feelings. My hope is, that knowing your lineage will give you a sense of belonging. It will help you feel less alone in this increasingly impersonal and madly rushing society, and where nuclear families are often scattered throughout the world.”
The stories throughout GOOD BLOOD depict moments in time, moments in the lives of my family, past and present. The stories are primarily about women … and a few men. I am in love with their stories.
“Listen for other voices in the Cosmic Fugue.”
I have listened for other voices and recorded some of them, and I have felt the impact of those voices in my life and the lives of my children. We better know ourselves when we understand (or try to understand) others.
Courage, resilience, a sense of humour and a positive attitude are repetitive traits found in most of the following stories. Their voices illustrate that courage is often required in the extraordinary as well as the most banal moments of ordinary lives. Without it we are lost.
Listen. And read …
Linda Robertson Paupst . August 23, 2001 . rev 2013 .
Genre of ”GOOD BLOOD”
is Creative Nonfiction
That means I have augmented and embellished the accounts of the lives of family and ancestors in order to create hopefully interesting stories filled with their thoughts, emotions, intentions. I have changed the names of the charactors to protect the innocent and the guilty.
I do not mind my washing being hung out to dry (see my Memoir, “Decades”, for that), but others may not feel the same way.