Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mortality and Immortality

I am getting very good at scamming dinner out of my friends, since BJ has been working late the last couple of nights.  Last night we had dinner with Karen and Jim and their kids at their house, and tonight Monica and Craig and their kids brought pizza over for the kids and me.

Speaking of the kids, Jack is getting molars, and he's really not being very nice right now.  I've said it before but it bears repeating - children should not be allowed to get teeth until they can say, "Mother, may I please have some Tylenol?"

Speaking of medicine, we're reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Mary Grace is a lot more into it than she was last time.  We just got to the part (spoilers!) where her naughty cousin gets stung by a bunch of bees, and we talked about how they didn't have Benadryl or Tylenol back then - all they could do was pack the kid in mud, wrap him in a sheet, and put him to bed with some willow bark tea.  We agreed that we're grateful for medicine.  I wondered if maybe they didn't wrap him in that sheet to keep him from scratching more than anything.

Speaking of the distant past, online genealogy is crazy.  I was just reading about my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather (no kidding) Ephraim Minor.  It seems that a lot of people can claim him.  He and his kids and their kids all had a bunch of kids.  But there's something very creepy about reading those names from the 1600s, and the dates of birth and death, the dates of their marriages and their childrens' births (and often deaths) and having no story to fill in the rest of the years.  A lot of stuff must have happened to Ephraim between his birth in 1642 and his death in 1724.  He lived a whole life - 82 years!  But all I know is that he moved around a lot.  I can't find many satisfying details about him, and even fewer about his wife, or his parents, or his children, and it makes me sad.  That whole life boils down to a name and a bunch of dates.

It makes me think about my great^9 grandchildren, and whether or not they'll find these words, 350 years from now, and what they'll think of me.  The thought of that makes me dizzy.  Will my name sound as old as Ephraim's sounds to me?  Will 2012 seem so distant?  Will there be anything left to remember me by, other than a bunch of dates and names of places where I lived?

5 comments:

Bev said...

What timing...I just helped my grandson with a family history project because on my mom's side we can trace eleven generations with birth, marriage, death dates; spouse info; and child info without a break. The first of these ancestors was born in 1695. A distant cousin of mine researched all the lines and published a 200+ page harcover book in 1979...so my kids are the last generation in that book.

Some genealogy information comes from obituaries and I think we've lost so much by no longer writing about the person's life then. If you read old ones, they are full of detail. Let's start a new/old trend!

Rob Monroe said...

We just finished up Little House in the Big Woods and I thing my favorite part was the bee-sting scene. Led to some good talks with Abby about why we have to listen and to not try to trick people. (And amazingly written!)

Kathryn said...

This is precisely why you need to scrapbook!!

Amy Austin said...

Have I ever shown you my single attempt at scrapbooking, Kathryn? It's PATHETIC! (By the way, thanks for being available when the math all went south today! You saved the day!!)

Bev - I agree! I want a whole column devoted to all the cool things I've done! Now I just need to find time to do the cool things. I did recently perfect the chocolate chip cookie - mine turn out chewy and tall, now, instead of flat and crunchy. It only took about 25 years of practice. :)

Rob - I was Laura for about 7 Halloweens in a row. I LOVE the Little House books, and I've been waiting for my kids to get old enough to enjoy them FOREVER - since long before I ever got pregnant. Probably before I got married, to be honest!

Cate said...

Geneaology also blows my mind. I have a deep desire to find out more about the people in my background. I have often had the thought that, despite all the things they did through their lives, their loves and disappointments, their successes and failures, despite the fact that I never met them, and that they are just like complete strangers, the only thing they have to show for their entire lives is ME -- well, and the other children from their lineage. And then I think, everything that I do in my life, all my hopes and dreams and loves and failures will all boil down to children of some far away age that I will never meet. That is mind-boggling to me! :)