Today’s Plinky/PostADay prompt: Share what you know about your family’s ancestry.
I know nothing about my family’s ancestry. I’m not even sure of the details of my immediate family. Apparently I have a sister that I never realized was a sister. (I’ve always been a little clueless with subtle nuances at times). I thought she was a cousin or just fit into that broad category of “relative” without really knowing exactly where she fit it. Maybe a play cousin or the kid of a family friend.
My father was known by various names. His death certificate lists his name as Oscar M. Shaw. The “M” is for Marshall. His first marriage certificate (not my mother) lists his name as Oscar Chapple. His third marriage certificate (again, not my mother) lists it as Oscar M. Shaw. I don’t know where his marriage certificate to my mother is. And I don’t have his birth certificate either.
I vaguely know he was adopted and lived with the Chapples (or Chappell’s. The spelling was always changing) for awhile. I don’t know why, how, when, or where but I had an Uncle Roscoe whose last name was Chappell who lived in Detroit. I was a kid, and it was so convoluted that I never asked for clarification. I’m sure there’s a story there I’m not really all that curious anymore. Maybe one day I’ll decide to delve. Or maybe not.
I have all these people out there that I’m related, but not connected to. While I was growing up it was me, my mom and my Dad. My brothers and sisters were technically halves: We have the same father but different mothers. And we never lived in the same house so I didn’t grow up with them. And they were all grown and on their own by the time I came along, anyway. I guess that’s why I don’t get that warm, fuzzy family feeling for a “sister”, “brother”, “niece” or “nephew”. When I tell that to people I sometimes get that sad “oh, you poor thing” look. I’m okay with that. It’s what I’ve always known. I do miss having a “family”, but my family was my parents, my aunt Susie* and my Nana (my mother’s mother). The other “relatives” would pop in sporadically.
The halves didn’t really talk to my dad much and I never knew why. When he was in the hospital (basically) dying (although we didn’t really know it at the time) my sister Karen came by and drove me to up to see him. She made some aggravated comment about “none of his kids talk to him so you know there’s something wrong”. I was a Daddy’s girl, I didn’t know how he was as their father, but as my father he always took care of me and my mom. So I didn’t ask about the issues, didn’t care what they thought. I still remember once when I was little my mother being hurt and upset after Karen had left, telling my dad “she treats me like a damn piece of furniture!” I remember talk of one of my brothers and his friend cheating my dad out of some money in some construction/household repair scam. So that’s always informed my feelings of closeness or lack thereof for my relatives.
After my mom died it was me, my dad and Aunt Susie. Through the years my dad had a couple of girlfriends, another wife, and a fiancée. Towards the last couple of years Susie was suffering from Alzheimer’s and severe dementia. After my dad died it was just Susie. And me. No cousins, no brothers, sisters. They came around for the funeral, for the insurance. But not for the struggle of bills, house maintenance, nightly feedings, nightly rantings and fetid cleanups.
But I don’t hate any of them. If I ever run into them, it’s a warm hug and a kiss, but they’re not part of my life.
*We lived with my Aunt Susie. She wasn’t my dad’s sister or my mom’s. She may have actually been my granddad’s aunt. (See – more of that convoluted ancestry)
RANDOM PARTING THOUGHT