June 10, 2003

Better Days

As I was doing the dishes tonight I was listening to the Corrs, one of my favourite groups, as it often my custom. And I was jamming to one of my favourite songs…

We are so young now
We are so young, so young now
And when tomorrow comes
We can do it all again

And then it hit me: no we aren’t. They may be, but I’m less than a year from 40. If I live to my life expectancy, in the word of Moses’ only Psalm, “if by reason of strength they are eighty years,” I’m a middle as middle-aged can get. I’m crippled, fat, bald, blind, and half-deaf (from all that loud music when I really was “so young, so young”). I have seen better days. “Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed.”

So I think I’ve got it bad, but then I think about the genealogy work I was doing the other night. I was spurred on by a question my father asked about his grandfather’s brother. Realising that he is the oldest heir male (i.e., person to carry the Holford surname) of his grandfather, he wonder if he was the oldest of his great-grandfather. I determined that he would appear to be the oldest heir male of his great-great-grandfather Holford. But that’s not the point of my story. I just thought you might find it interesting.

Anyhow, as I was looking at census records for 1870. I found the entry for my great-great-grandfather Holford’s family. He wasn’t listed, because he didn’t come back from the War Between the States. My great-great-grandmother was there, aged 32, having already been a widow for five or six years. Then there was my great-grandfather, 12 years old. And Uncle Don, 11 and with no idea whatsoever that he would be dead at 30. And little girls 9 and 5, the youngest born after the last time my great-great-grandmother ever saw her husband.

We have a picture of my great-great-grandmother Holford. It’s a rather well-known picture because she is so strikingly unattractive. If you saw that picture, you would think she is an old woman. A particularly ugly old woman. It was certainly taken late in life. But she died six months shy of her 50th birthday. (She died the same year as her father, who was 88.) I’m sure it had been a hard life.

She was only outlived by Uncle Don for 18 months. Aunt Mary, the little 9-year-old in 1870, would be dead two years after that, in the winter of ‘91, buried with her infant child. They are all interred in a mostly forgotten family cemetery that’s covered chest-high with weeds and briars most of the year.

I may not be so young, so young now. But I haven’t had it so bad.

Posted by david at June 10, 2003 09:17 PM