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The other side: digging deeper

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My dad was born in Deep Run, Ohio in 1927. He's still alive and his home now is an assisted living center. While his memories are fading, he can recall much of his military history and the places he lived while in the USAF. I've been having a difficult time lately facing the inevitable decline of his mental abilities. There's so much I still want to know.

Both my parents' pasts are mysterious to us as neither one of them talked much about their lives prior to meeting one another. My dad was likely to have become a coal miner like his father had he not lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marine. Of Irish descent, he once told me that his father's family fled Ireland during the potato famine and that his mother's family was from England. I also remember his telling us that we're distantly related to Zane Grey. (I've yet to confirm that, but I'm hoping to learn more from my aunt as she's been an excellent and reliable source of information regarding her and my father's past). So far, I know just enough about my parents to be incredibly curious. The more I uncover, the more I understand and the more I want to know. Quiet and undemonstrative, my father always seemed to have his thoughts and attention elsewhere. He was an accomplished printer, calligrapher, photographer, and gardener. Many of the photos I have of my mother exist because of him. Still, it's a complicated relationship. We've had few deep talks and none of the four of us daughters are close to him.

It's been the recent comments about my knitting journal that made me think of my Dad -- because my sisters and I all share my Dad's love of paper, writing instruments, stationery and mail. It's a happy realization for me that we have that link to him.

“People live for the dream in their hearts. And I have yet to know anyone who has not some secret dream, some hope, however dim, some storied wall to look at in the dusk, some painted window leading to the soul.” (Zane Grey)


What a wonderful story. I think a lot of parents of your father's generation remained somewhat distant to their children; it was more the norm. Sometimes I think I know a lot about my parents (both born 1937), and then they will say or do something that makes me think I don't know them at all. I'm glad you can appreciate your mutual love of paper and the act of writing.

This entry made my heart smile.

I understand what you are saying about the mystery of family members. Thank you for reminding me to try and spend more time learning more about family heritage before it is too late.

I'm glad you have your aunt as a good resource for the info that you are finding. I have also found that gaining information brings understanding. Thanks for reminding me of the fact that sometimes I have to search for the information.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Family history can be very fragile. The loss of one person can mean the loss of so much information. We have a box of old family photos from back in the early 1900's and my Aunt Pearl was the only one left who knew who many of the people in the photos were. I sat with her numerous times and wrote names on the back of some of the photos but we just barely scratched the surface. She died last year and now that info is lost forever. We'll never know who the people in the photos were. It's so sad when you think what a treasure we've lost. Make sure you write everything down that your aunt can tell you.

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your father and the interests that he passed along to you and your sisters.

Your dad sounds like an incredibly talented guy. Isn't it odd how you live with people all your life yet know next to nothing about parts of their past? Family research can be fun. You might check with your local library so see what sort of geneology services are available.

This would've been such a difficult post to write. I think we've spoken once before of how much should we reveal and how much should we hold back. You've achieved a perfect balance. I admire your honesty.

Thank you Janet for your compassionate comments on Dad. While he wasn't close to his 4 daughters, yes we did share his love for paper, pens and inherited his wonderful penmenship. Thank you for reminding me!

what a touching post about your dad. thanks for putting it out there.

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