Competitive Lumberjacking and Family Tree Shaking

On some days when I have nothing better to do, I will use Google to shake up the family tree and see what falls out of it.

Yesterday, I happened upon some medical articles about my first cousin. Thirty-one years ago, she had stillborn conjoined twins. They were formed rather strangely (one head inside of another, with two bodies opposite each other) so at the time she delivered, the twins were whisked away and she didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye or bury them. They went right into the county morgue, where they were autopsied.

This cousin didn’t like me very much. We were born the same year, and she always felt my grandma liked me best. My grandma had scores of grandchildren, and I don’t think she thought better of any of them. Well, I should amend that. Maybe my one boy cousin, also my age. He looked like Jesus back in the 1970s. I don’t know what he looks like now. He pissed me off about 30 years ago and I haven’t spoken to him since.

Back to my female cousin and her twins: I vividly remember the entire episode and the hushed tones when we were all talking about her experience. My aunt thought of them as monsters, which is how they appeared. Reading about it online solidified this for me. I felt sorry for her then, and I still do. I was never very close to her, but am still very close to her younger sister.

The other leaves that fell out of my family tree were some other distant relations. I have third and fourth cousins who have always competed in logging competitions. If you lived as far north as they do, you’d know why. These days, everyone has a satellite dish, but back in those days, you had to entertain yourself somehow. Some people drank heavily, some had sex with anything that would lay down. These cousins competed in log rolling and tree cutting competitions. I suppose it kept them out of trouble. I don’t know. The last time we visited that far branch of the family tree was in 1975. My father, grandma and I drove two hundred miles from civilization to see them. The husband was my grandma’s brother. The wife was not amused. She didn’t give us anything to drink, and after our long trip, only offered us smoked whitefish to eat. Smoked whitefish makes a fine appetizer but a horrible dinner. They were so far into the wilderness, we had to drive back almost the entire two hundred miles before we could find a diner with food.

Needless to say, it was a long time before I could eat smoked fish. (I love it now, so I’ve obviously gotten over it.)

I also located some other cousins with MySpace accounts. I’m not sure I want to ask them to be my friends there. Remaining incognito is a splendid feeling. Spying from afar is just fine by me.

It’s nice to shake the tree from a distance and not have to rake up any of the leaves.

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11 Responses

  1. Thinking about my relatives and my wife’s relatives, my advice to Random Granddaughter would be to marry an orphan.

  2. 🙂

    That’s my advice to my children too…

  3. My mom recently discovered that we’re related to a wealthy, regionally-famous racist. YAY!

    Also, apparently somehow related to the either the Bausches or the Lombs of Bausch and Lomb fame. This has yet to translate into money for any of us.

  4. My comment disappeared.

  5. No. I brought it back to life.

  6. I have no one famous or infamous, hiding or otherwise perched on my family tree. I’ve looked. No luck.

  7. I have one uncle who has been in and out of institutions his whole adult life, and another one who is really bizarre. So, no, I’m carefully not looking…

  8. I also have an uncle who said he palled around with Al Capone. He’s dead now.

  9. I have a obscurely famous uncle, the composer George Perle (mother’s brother), still alive in his 90s.

    I had a millionaire cousin, Joanna Nichols, (daughter of my father’s sister), now dead from breast cancer. She became a millionaire by learning Chinese in Taiwan. Along with her Taiwanese husband she was the owner of Graco, a company that builds baby furniture and baby strollers, now owned by Rubbermaid.

    It is a very strange experience to hear my cousin jabbering away in fluent Chinese on the phone. I assume it was fluent; it could have been Martian for all I knew.

    Her daughter was the first child in Taiwan to receive a cochlear implant. She used her millions to set up a foundation in Taiwan to pay for cochlear implants for any Taiwanese child born deaf who can benefit from the treatment.

    A library at the “American School” in Taiwan is named after her in honor of her good deeds in this regard.

    Why a girl from a Jewish family wanted to learn Chinese is a mystery to me, but why not.

    I teach computer classes in a multi-ethnic American environment. I tell my students to study Chinese, so they can become millionaires as my cousin did. As some of my students are native speakers of Chinese , they find my advice puzzling.

  10. Nice comment resurrection!

  11. I’m studying Japanese, but it’s for purely selfish reasons.

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