Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life Events: the Experience of Loss through Death

We genealogists and family historians talk and write about all sorts of life events that occur in our families.  The event of death is often the most difficult.  Today my older daughter was once again brought into contact with that particular one.  She and her sister have dealt with such events beginning much earlier than I, as their mother, would have wished.  They've experienced the deaths of their grandmothers -- both within just a couple years of each other -- when they were very young, just on the cusp of understanding what death is and means.  As well, they have experienced the passing of two great-grandmothers and their uncle, as well as other people they have met in their time here on Earth.

My father died when I had just turned seven years old, and in those days (1954), it was thought that children did not understand at all.  That was to shortchange children, because they understand a lot more than we give them credit for.  And they're more resilient than we often give them credit for.  Certainly I was underestimated in 1954, as I was isolated and cut off from the family experience, and given no guidance whatsoever as I attempted to negotiate the frightening landscape of grief and loss all by myself.  That colored my emotional response for a long, long time, left me hostile and emotionally insecure, and made the adjustment much more long and drawn-out a process than it ever needed to be. 

When their grandmother -- my mother-in-law -- died in June of 1978, I determined that my daughters, five and six years old at the time, were not going to be left out of the loop as I was.  Likewise, when their other grandmother -- my mother -- died in 1980, I guided them through the process.  They did not need to be isolated and "protected" from the fact of death and its consequences for the living.  They needed to be kept very much in the loop, to have it explained to them as gently and honestly as possible, and to have their hands held by the caring adults in their family during that difficult time, to reassure them that life did go on, and that they would not be left entirely alone in the experience.  Considering how they have managed as young adults and now middle-aged adults, I am convinced that I did the right thing.

My older daughter heard today that one of her high school best friends died.  This is the second such event for her.  Her other high school best friend was killed in a highway accident thirteen years ago (1999).  I would have preferred she be spared that, and I would have preferred both my daughters be spared the events of their grandmothers -- and since then, other family members -- dying.  But we are not granted such requests.  We are charged with reacting compassionately and responsibly to these events.  It is demanded of us that we go through the steps of the grieving process, and it is hoped we take comfort where we can, and emerge from the experienced strengthened in faith and courage.

I think my daughters have been prepared well, and I'm proud today of my older one for the way she has handled the news, of my younger one for the caring she showed, and of my son-in-law for being my older daughter's strength, both times.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three years; still going

I'm so sick.  I have a chest cold which is kicking me to the curb.  My voice is toast -- I'm channeling Lauren Bacall.  Or is it Robert Stack?  (You have to be a certain age to get that comment. If you don't, there's always Wikipedia and the IMDB.)  I have had to cancel a speaking engagement because of this rotten chest cold.  Feh!

Anyway, it completely skipped my cognizance that today, 16 May, is my blogiversary.   Been at this for three years now.  Wow - how time flies when we're having fun!  And now I have two other blogs -- my book and writing blog, Autobiography of A. Bookworm; and my newest one, my history blog, Clio's Daughter (links on the navigation bar to the right).

I've met a bunch of neat folks through blogging, and found some I had known previously, as well.  There's lots of good thought and information out here in the blogosphere.

Thanks to the two folks who sent me congratulatory comments, and who thereby reminded my poor sick, tired brain that today is indeed my blogging anniversary.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Merry Month of May Music Meme

This comes from Family History Across the Seas

The Merry Month of May Music Meme: a meme for your amusement.
Since the whole point of this is to have fun, retrieve memories and generally chill out (very 60s!), feel free to amend/add/subtract. I’m not even going to ask you to do the usual checklist of have done, want to do, don’t want to do. If you feel the urge, go ahead, you know how it works. And, geneabloggers, yes there is still family history value in this: give your descendants a laugh, let them get to know you with your hair down. Don’t forget, anyone can join in – it will make it much more fun.
I’ll be posting my responses later today and I’m even going to try to be spontaneous – first song/music that comes into my head. If you decide to join in please let me know via the links below (it’s supposed to be fun, so I’m not going to learn about linky-doo-dahs).
  1. Song(s)/Music from your childhood:  Rock Around the Clock, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Written on the Wind
  2. Song(s)/ Musos from your teenage years:  Louie, Louie; Garden Party; Stairway to Heaven
  3. First live concert you attended:  Kingston Trio
  4. Songs your parents sang along to:  My mother did not sing much; she could whistle like Bing Crosby, and would whistle his songs.
  5. Song(s)/Music your grandparents sang/played:  They died before I was born, most of them.  My grandma didn't sing.
  6. Did your family have sing-a-longs at home or a neighbours: No.
  7. Did you have a musical instrument at home:  No.
  8. What instruments do you play (if any):  None, but I'm learning recorder.
  9. What instruments do you wish you could play: Piano, guitar, recorder.
  10. Do you/did you play in a band or orchestra:  No
  11. Do you/did you sing in a choir:  Yes, I sang in the church youth choir.
  12. Music you fell in love to/with or were married to:  "The Wedding Song" sung by Paul Stookey.
  13. Romantic music memories: Live jazz at a local club my husband and I went to when we were courting.
  14. Favourite music genre(s): Classical, jazz, mountain music, old country (nothing after about 1950), very little rock, show tunes.
  15. Favourite classical music:  My favorite classical composers are all 20th century Americans -- Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein.  I also like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, many others.
  16. Favourite opera/light opera:  Not much for opera.
  17. Favourite musical:  South Pacific
  18. Favourite pop:  Not much for pop.
  19. Favourite world/ethnic: Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.
  20. Favourite jazz:  Dave Brubeck
  21. Favourite country or folk:  Country before 1950, like the songs written or collected by A. P. Carter.  Folk:  lots of it!
  22. Favourite movie/show musical:  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Music Man.
  23. Favourite sound tracks:  O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  24. What music do you like to dance to:  I don't dance!
  25. What dances did you do as a teenager:  The Twist, the Slop
  26. Do you use music for caller ID on your mobile: Just have not got around to it.
  27. What songs do you use for caller ID:  Haven't got around to it.
  28. What songs do your children like or listen to:  They listen to stuff I don't understand at all!
  29. Favourite live music concerts as an adult:  The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
  30. Silly music memories from your family:  Songs my grandfather made up, which were mostly puns.
  31. Silliest song you can think of:  I've Got Tears in my Ears from Lying on my Back in Bed Crying Over You.  (Really!)  Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road is a good one, too!
  32. Pet hate in music/singing:  People who play their radios/stereos too loud!
  33. A song that captures family history for you:  Back Home Again in Indiana.
  34. If you could only play 5 albums (assume no iPods or mp3) for the rest of your life, what would they be:  Dvorak's New World symphony; Beethoven's Pastorale symphony; the sound track to The Music Man; Instrumental Music from the Southern Appalachians, a heritage recording done by the Library of Congress; and an album I have of Andres Segovia.
  35. Favourite artists (go ahead and list as many as you like):  The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields; the New York Philharmonic . . . you get the picture