Saturday, July 24, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Memories Do You Have of Family Sickness or Deaths?

We're thinking about more serious subjects this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music):

(1) What memories do you have of family sickness or death?  Tell us about one or more of them and how the family dealt with it.

(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a comment with a link to your blog post on this post.

This is a subject I have thought about before, primarily because it wasn't something my family appeared to have dealt with while I was a child.  I don't remember hearing about any deaths when I was young.  I used to think that we hadn't had any family members who had died during that period.

After I started doing more family history research, I learned that two of my maternal grandfather's brothers died in 1968, when I was 6 years old.  My father's paternal grandmother died in 1970, when I was 8.  I never heard about the deaths when they occurred.

The first death I remember hearing about in my family was when my paternal grandfather's brother died.  I think that was in 1975, after my family had moved back to the United States and was living near my grandfather.  One day my mother told me that Grampa would be out of town for a few days.  When I asked why, she told me it was because his brother had died.  My reaction?  "Grampa has a brother?"  I had never heard of the brother!  And that was all I heard about him then.  Grampa came back home and didn't say anything about him or whatever memorial service might have been held.

The next death in my family, which had an illness preceding it, didn't occur until 1989.  My maternal grandfather had leukemia (which I didn't find out until some years later was caused by a blood tranfusion he received during his heart surgery, which had taken place years earlier and which also had not been talked about) and had been slowly losing ground.  My grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration was scheduled to be held in 1989, and I think Zadie held on long enough to be able to attend.  He died a couple of months after it took place.  At least that I heard about when it happened.  I also heard about when family members went to the cemetery a year later for his unveiling, a Jewish tradition.  So there was certainly more communication than had previously occurred.  But other than that we didn't talk about it a lot.

I don't really know if my famly was just that pragmatic or if these things weren't discussed in front of children.  But it has been interesting to learn about some of these events so long after the fact.


  1. At first I'd say they wanted to protect the children from this kind of sadness, but perhaps they wanted to protect themselves.

    1. I know, it could be either way. At this point, I will probably never know.

  2. Might it be related to how religious the family members were? My Nana was very religious and often went to funerals. However, she was the only member on either side of the family who was religious and the handful of funerals held in my lifetime were small and quiet.

    1. It could be. I just don't know. On my father's side, though, I suspect a lot of it was just that they weren't very close. I remember my mother went to Floriday for my grandfather's unveiling, but that was a year later.


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