Since coming to Montreal last September, I have been asked by several people what my connection to Canada is.
One connection, my great x 3 grandfather Joseph Lewis, is from the mid to late 1800s. He left Canada to come to the US for work.
But another, slightly more indirect connection, dates back to the 1700s. And it involves war. Continue reading
Two days ago I celebrated Thanksgiving Day, or as we call it, Turkey Day, with my relatives in the US. It was the first time for me to do so in over 20 years.
The myths about the holiday are well-known, so I won’t waste time relating them here (most Americans are happy to go on pretending the “Pilgrim Fathers” started this when really it’s just an excuse for a four-day weekend of stuffing yourself, watching football, and shopping).
In our case, it was the first holiday since my mother passed away. The next two will be even harder. But the oft-trite is oft-true: it was as if the empty chair at the long table was filled with her presence. This year was different.
A passing of the family torch. Dinner at my sister’s house, dessert with her in-laws. Boardgames with aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Family stories with grandpa. Skype with the grandkids overseas. Most of us drove seven or eight hours roundtrip just to spend one day together.
The grieving process continues. So does life. You can’t pick your relatives, but in some case you get real lucky.
May the roads bring success to you,
May the winds be forever at your back,
May the sunshine be warm on your face,
May the rains fall lightly upon your fields, until we meet again.
And may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.
Good bye, Mom. Your final journey awaits, and I cannot follow. But your memory will here linger still, until I have the courage to go on.
“Three little children who were playing on the sidewalk near 118th Street and Seventh Avenue Tuesday afternoon jokingly shouted to two women riding in a ten-year-old automobile, ‘Get a horse! Get a horse!’
“A few seconds later they were frantically scrambling from the path of the old machine as apparently out of control, it plunged across the street toward them like a juggernaut.”
“There was a moment of silence and then from the front of the car…came the screams of a child.” Continue reading
One thing I have struggled with while uncovering my family’s complicated past is the lack of consistency in naming conventions before the digital age.
In the Information Age, if you type in your name or ID with a single letter missing or out of place, your application gets rejected by whatever online program it is you’re trying to get access to. We all have numbers assigned to us—social security numbers, student numbers, worker numbers, case numbers, credit card numbers, you name it.
Thhppt. What’s a number? What’s a name? That which we would call a rose… Continue reading
It has been said that men write history but women live it.
In my family, it’s also been the women who were the keepers of family history, the tellers of tales and stories. The saver of old photographs and documents.
Which is why I have this photograph of four generations of women who brought four different families into our lineage. Thank you, Aunt Linda, for saving it. Since they are gone, I have an obligation to tell their stories. Who are they? Continue reading
Since I wrote about an ancestor on my father’s side (one of his side’s anyway) from the 1920s, I thought the next story to introduce should be from someone on my mother’s side, from roughly the same time period.
But one generation later. And with a theme of religious intolerance. And possibly related to 19th century Irish-American history. Continue reading