Sunday, June 18, 2006

A meandering Father's Day train of thought....

Mom always said her kids were a "duke's mixture." What she meant by that, I was never quite sure, but guess it referred to the several different nationalities swimming around in our gene pool.

Dad's side of the family was predominantly English and Irish with a soupcon of Cherokee to enhance the mix. Mom's people were Polish / Prussian / German and English. All our ancestors, except the Cherokee woman who married an Irishman, emigrated to America on boats. It's safe to say that none of them traveled in first class accommodations on their voyage to a new land. We came from poor but sturdy European stock.

My ancestor's first order of business was to learn the laws and language of the land. The Germans, especially, made it a family rule to first establish citizenship and then to speak only American English in their homes. Grandma said sometimes her parents argued behind closed doors in German, but the children were required to converse only in the language of this land. As a result, Grandma and her siblings knew a few cuss words in German and how to say "I love you" --"Ich liebe dich" -- but very little else.

All I know about the Cherokee woman in my father's ancestry is that she ruled her marriage with matriarchal determination. She refused to "lay" with her handsome dark haired, dark eyed husband until he homesteaded land in Kansas. She also stubbornly refused to register as an Indian, and insisted whatever children their marriage might produce be born outside the reservation on their own land. I suspect he swiftly complied because 12 children came of their union. No one in later generations ever met the woman, but her strength is in her descendents to this day.

My father left my life early, via divorce, but his ancestors live on in his children. They are indelibly stamped into our DNA. So thanks, Dad, for the Irish--Cherokee genes you passed along to your children.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I've always wondered about my ancestry on either side of my family. That was very informative. Thanks :o)

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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