Over the years my dad has told me many secrets. I guess they aren't exactly secrets but more like tidbits that I listened to and then promptly forgot. I know my dad was from a big family. I remember his parents from when I was small. I remember when they got older and couldn't take care of themselves my father bought a trailer and put it in our backyard for his parents so he and my mom could take care of them. I don't remember much about them but I do remember that my Grandma was diabetic and she would go to the store and buy pepsi and candy and tell mom it was for her....when it was really for me. I don't remember when my Grandmother died, but I do remember when my Grandpa died. I remember my dad had just had to put Grandpa in a nursing home because he was too much for my mom to take care of when he was at work. My mom had just given birth to my sister and it had been a hard pregnancy. My Grandpa wanted my sister named after his late wife and they did name her middle name after her, but Grandpa wanted her first name to be his late wife's name. I do remember going to the nursing home and calling my baby sister by her middle name because my parents told me to. I remember when I became a volunteer at that nursing home 10 years later some of the nurses remembered my Grandpa....because he was always feeling them up when they leaned over his bed.
I also remember some of dad's brothers and sisters. I'm not sure how many he had because I never met them all. I remember a couple of brothers that were alcoholics that dad tried to help until they died but couldn't keep them straight. I also remember one of those brothers staying at our house on Easter one year and he spent the day flipping lit matches at me. I remember being very young and dad and I going to find brothers who were living in bad conditions and taking them food for their families. Dad did have some sisters who did ok with their lives. I see one of them every 5 or 6 years. When one of my dads brothers died a few years ago I got to see a couple of his sisters I hadn't seen since I was in grade school. When we were young I do have memories of playing with cousins and getting together with groups of dads family. I haven't seen those cousins for probably 25 years.
My dad's family has a small cemetery in a cow pasture, out what used to be a dirt road before it grew over. My dad mows it all summer just to keep it looking nice. Many years ago when I was helping dad mow I remember him pointing at the ground in places just inside the fence of the cemetery and telling me that he had baby brothers and sisters buried there. There were no markers at all, just his memory of burying them when they died as babies. I really need to make him tell me again where they are because I can not remember now and someone should remember.
During our 11 hours in a car the other day he started talking about a brother and a sister I never knew. Both had left home very early and he only saw them a few times. His sister called him in the middle of the night many times after she moved out but she was always drunk and he finally asked her to not call him again until she was sober. She never did and died soon after, it was obvious he regrets asking her not to call. His brother left when he was 15 and dad only heard from him twice before his death. When he died dad drove 3 hours to where he was and helped pay for his funeral. His brothers girlfriend found dads number in an address book his brother kept and called dad. She told him that the brother had always told her that he didn't have any family. There was one other brother I never met and I found out about him when I read the obituary in the paper that mentioned my dad as his brother.
One thing my father doesn't talk about much is his life when he was young. I asked him during our car ride why his brothers and sisters left home early and he said he didn't know, but a lot of kids did that back then. I do know that my dad was the only one in his family that graduated from high school.
My brother, who is 7 years older than I am and can remember my Grandparents pretty well told me once that he heard rumors when he was small that my Grandpa was a hard man. He was a blacksmith and was very strong and my brother heard rumors that he was very hard on his kids. I have no idea if that is true and I know my dad would never say anything bad about his father. I have a couple of pictures of my Grandparents sitting on the porch of their farmhouse with me and my cousins. I don't remember anything about their farmhouse, but my grandpa died soon after my sister was born and I would have just been 7.
It seems weird to me that I know so little about my family. My mothers side of the family are all close and we get together as often as we can. I know their history back quite a few generations and can name people who died way before I was born. One day soon I am going to sit down with dad and work on his family history. He is 71 years old now and someone needs to be able to keep those memories alive. I guess maybe I could do like I talked about in my last post and just go to the cemetery and talk to them.....wonder if they would talk back?