Family Men at 40: A Rogue’s Gallery
I’ll say this for investing a little time in genealogy as a hobby: the presents you can create for family sure beat the silk off gifting another tie or purse.
As much as genealogy plays into my passions for research and writing, my bouts of document diving and image archiving have generated a few keepsake Christmas and birthday and anniversary and just-because gifts commemorating loved ones lost and living.
What fun would it be, after all, not to share?
Blogging about my Grandpa Foutz’s special 1931 football season led first to a Christmas book collecting both his source scrapbook and my blogs about his exploits, and later to a project to create an authentic reproduction of his 1931 jersey, as well as his actual game-worn uniform.
Before that, I’d taken a first crack at a frame-worthy family tree poster for my parents’ 35th anniversary. Then, a few years ago for my own 10th anniversary, I’d included my wife’s side back to the great-greats in an even bigger piece that hangs in our dining room at home — a record I’ve got to update, anyway, since we added a third little grape to our own family vine, oh, three years or so ago.
I’ve gladly cut my cousins into a trove of photos and newspaper clips I’ve stockpiled for their own efforts at milestone-marking.
And speaking of milestones, some of the less-sleuthworthy but more generically blogworthy posts in this space have focused on monthly birthdays and anniversaries of our ancestors.
This blog site and the notion of Whispering Across the Campfire, of course, is a means of sharing, too — releasing the newfound mysteries and facts so we can revel at them together, or send a beacon to relatives yet unknown in order to make sense of a particularly gnarly nugget.
You can bet I get a lot out of that, too.
So genealogical generosity, evidence indicates, is mostly a zero-sum game. You get what you give.
Well, today, I found my thoughts turning to… myself. Specifically, at about 12:12 a.m., the clock having ticked to a milestone of my own. I found myself, newly 40, pondering… a variety of sleep-evading thoughts, mostly on family. For instance:
- my inlaws, in their 60s; when we’d first met, sharing beers at a festival tent in Columbus, Ohio, they were barely 50. Is it possible so much time has racked up, and so quickly?
- my youngest son, turned 3 just 3 days before; when I’m 50 he’ll be 13, still house-bound to us for another 5 years, but also likely to leap in an eyeblink.
- my oldest, almost 10, will be out of the house by then; his brother, Ben, on the verge of leaving.
- my own parents, at 40, contending with a 16-year-old me. Seems so recent, but actually….
- the things I’d hoped for, some lost, some attained — were they me? Another me? Someone else?
- and the memories which still seem close enough to step into; events and people at 12 and 20 and 9 and 30, how long do we hold them, and for what end?
All right. So at least I’m old enough to know the antidote — a trusty book, kept bedside. Reshuffling my thoughts in the rhythm of narrative. Finding rest.
Mostly, in that interval, I thought of family. And the lessons we grope at — however profound, however fleeting — of the things they’d done, and the ways they’d lived. What it says about us, about all this: there is always someone who came before, always stories to be written after.
OK, so I eventually found sleep. And woke up today with a little nugget of an idea for a milestone blog of sorts. Not about me, really. But a visual reminder of some of the ragged thoughts bumping around in my middle-aged brain.
A few years ago, when my parents turned 60, I put together a little slideshow compiling photos and facts of their own parents and grandparents and great-grandparents: what they looked like and the way they lived in the years they turned 60. A little parallel time capsule, of sorts.
So today I find myself thinking about the men in my family. A few of whom I’m told I resemble. (That’s generous, in some instances, plainly tragic in others. But ah well. Our faces are just the facades we present to the outside.) Without over-narrating, then (having done that already), a slideshow. Of Foutzes and Leys and Weibles, etc., at or around when they turned 40.
Of course, 40 is relative. (Accidental pun, hahaha. Relative.) What would it mean, without a little juxtaposition? So, I’ve thrown that in, too.
Prost! Skol! Cheers!
So this is 40? A Slideshow