Saturday, June 25, 2011

Music of Your Life

Randy Seaver in his genealogy blog gave links to find out what songs were popular when-ever.... He recommends two sites - and

Just like in the movies there is background music in our day to day lives. Today it may come from the radio, our iPod or mp3 players, songs playing off our computer or CDs, or songs you are singing yourself. "Worse than that"? Sometimes it seems like there's someone (?) orchestrating what music will come to our minds when - when we need answers to things we're puzzling over. Is there a theme running through our lives? Cue the ____ music!

I borrow CDs from the library and am grateful for the variety and size of their collection, but they have a lot of music I will never want to listen to: to each their own tastes. I like to sing in choral groups. I like old standards, folk songs, children's songs, barbershop, patriotic songs, Christmas songs, sacred choral music and hymns. I listen to this link a lot, over and over. I am LDS: Come Unto Christ.

I know the power of music to carry a message into our minds, and our hearts. I am grateful for songs that have a message that edifies, encourages and uplifts the spirit. There is more good music yet to be written! Make it a matter of prayer - You, too, might be an instrument in the Lord's hands! :-o

My work with seniors bears out that it is the music that was popular (that you listened to) during the years you were courting, that you remember and enjoy most in your older years. My Nana was born in 1900. She was marrired in 1921. Tin Pan Alley songs were fun for her to reminisce with. We anchor or peg our experiences with songs - and on rehearing them, they trigger the resurfacing of those memories. In my late teens and 20's I listened to the classical music stations. I pretty much missed the popular music of the 70s & 80s. I am okay with that. I still listen to the classical music station.

What were the popular songs in the lives of the people in your family history? With every era, every campaign, there were songs written to promote - something: westward expansion, war songs, work songs, drinking songs, temperance songs. I remember Mitch Miller - Sing Along With Mitch. Here is a song for our era that's of that ilk. There are musical political cartoons in every age. Human nature is swayed by catchy lyrics and music. Be careful what you listen too - it may stick in your brain - like The Song That Never Ends. 'Sorry, that wasn't really very nice....

So do you have a favorite song? Do you have a strategy for getting unwanted thoughts (songs) our of your mind (like This Is the Song That Never Ends)? Challenge yourself to memorize a favorite hymn or song that lifts you up. Ask your folks about their favorite songs. And ask them why, too! You may get a whole story about where they were when & with whom, doing what and why. When you write your life story the chapter headings and the little quotes at the beginnings of the chapters could be song titles and lyrics! It could happen....

Maybe mine will be This Is the Song That Never Ends....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day

On facebook I posted: "Happy Fathers Day! You know who you are, I hope...."
This OpEd piece from the NY Times today really struck me - about people not knowing if, or of whom they are fathers. It is an important piece of our identity to know who our parents are. It is part of knowing ourselves.

I was going through family pictures with a friend. I think they were pictures from her husband's ancestry and she remarked how that one of her grandchildren looked just like this picture of an uncle as a youngster. I don't think I have the details just right, but I have experienced this, too, that the eyes looking out of an old family photograph come to life because you have seen that look in a family member in person. It is heartwarming. It is an anchor for us, to feel like we belong with a family.

Stories can do the same thing. Tell your children family history stories - of their ancestors. It will do their hearts good. Tell them his-stories and her-stories of courage, of figuring something out, of tough choices they made and how it turned out. Tell them stories that show the good that they can also accomplish. Tell the stories of hardships, of mistakes and how they recovered and came through their trials, stories of the family pulling together. They may remember those stories and tell their children.

Better yet - write them down :-D Write your life stories down to pass along. They will be a blessing for your posterity. What are you learning from Life? With whom are you sharing your life? Who do you Love? Who loves you? You will write your legacy a story at a time.

Op-Ed Contributor
A Father’s Day Plea to Sperm Donors
Published: June 18, 2011
Raleigh, N.C.

WHEN I was 5, my mother revealed to me that I had been conceived through artificial insemination. This was before I understood anything about sex or where babies came from — I think I thought they just sprang from their mothers’ stomachs at random. Because my understanding of conventional conception was so thin, my mom remained vague about the details of my conception — in all its complexity — until I got older.

When that time came, I learned how my mother, closing in on her 40s, found herself unmarried and childless. She had finished graduate school and established a career, but regretted not having a family. And so she decided to take the business of having a baby into her own capable hands. Artificial insemination seemed like a smart idea, perhaps the only idea.

She arranged a consultation at the University of North Carolina fertility clinic in early 1992. During the visits that followed she examined the profiles of the sperm bank’s donors, compared favorable traits and credentials, and picked one. In the autumn of that year, I was born.

My mom’s decision intrigued many people. Some saw it as a triumph of female self-sufficiency. But others, particularly her close friends and family, were shocked. “You can’t have a baby without a man!” they would gasp.

It turns out, of course, you can, and pretty easily. The harder part, at least for that baby as he grows older, is the mystery of who that man was. Or is.

I didn’t think much about that until 2006, when I was in eighth grade and my teacher assigned my class a genealogy project. We were supposed to research our family history and create a family tree to share with the class. In the past, whenever questioned about my father’s absence by friends or teachers, I wove intricate alibis: he was a doctor on call; he was away on business in Russia; he had died, prematurely, of a heart attack. In my head, I’d always dismissed him as my “biological father,” with that distant, medical phrase.

But the assignment made me think about him in a new way. I decided to call the U.N.C. fertility center, hoping at least to learn my father’s name, his age or any minutiae of his existence that the clinic would be willing to divulge. But I was told that no files were saved for anonymous donors, so there was no information they could give me.

In the early days of in vitro fertilization, single women and sterile couples often overlooked a child’s eventual desire to know where he came from. Even today, despite recent movies like “The Kids Are All Right,” there is too little substantial debate on the subject. The emotional and developmental deficits that stem from an ignorance of one’s origins are still largely ignored.

I understand why fertility centers chose to keep sperm donation anonymous. They were attempting to prevent extra chaos, like custody battles, intrusion upon happy families (on either party’s side), mothers showing up on donors’ doorsteps with homely, misbegotten children with runny noses and untied shoelaces to beg for child support. It’s entirely reasonable, and yet the void that many children and young adults born from artificial insemination experience from simply not knowing transcends reason.

I don’t resent my mom; she did the best thing she knew how to do at the time, and found a way to make a child under the circumstances. But babies born of the procedure in the future should have the right to know who their donors are, and even have some contact with them. Sperm donors need to realize that they are fathers. When I was doing college interviews, one of the interviewers told me that he didn’t have any children, but that he had donated sperm while in college because he needed the money. He didn’t realize that he probably is someone’s father, regardless of whether he knows his child.

I’m one of those children, and I want to know who my father is. There are some programs like the Donor Sibling Registry that try to connect those conceived through sperm and egg donation with lost half-siblings and sometimes even parents. But I don’t have much hope that I’ll ever find him.

For my eighth grade project, I settled on fabricating the unknown side of my family tree, and not much has changed since then. I’m 18 now, today is Father’s Day, and I still hardly know anything about my biological father, just a few vague details that my mother remembers from reading his profile so many years ago. I know that he was a medical student at U.N.C. the year I was born. I know that he had olive skin and brown hair. I know that his mother was Italian and his father Irish.

I call myself an only child, but I could very well be one of many siblings. I could even be predisposed to some potentially devastating disease. Because I do not know what my father looks like, I could never recognize him in a crowd of people. I am sometimes overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities, by the reality that my father could be anywhere: in the neighboring lane of traffic on a Friday during rush hour, behind me in line at the bank or the pharmacy, or even changing the oil in my car after many weeks of mechanical neglect.

I am sometimes at such a petrifying loss for words or emotions that make sense that I can only feel astonished by the fact that he could be anyone.

Colton Wooten graduated from Leesville Road High School this month.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Getting old, just like our ancestors


Observations on Growing Older
Your kids are becoming you, & you don't like ˜em.
But your grandchildren are perfect!
Going out is good.
Coming home is better!
When people say you look "Great", they add: "for your age!"
When you needed the discount, you paid full price.
Now you get discounts on everything ...
movies, hotels, flights; but you're too tired to use them.
You forget names, but it's OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
The 5 lbs you wanted to lose is now 15, & you have a better chance of losing your keys than the 15 lbs.
You realize you're never going to be really good at anything ... especially golf.
Your spouse is counting on you to remember things you don't remember.
The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore.
Your husband sleeps better on a lounge chair w/the TV blaring than he does in bed. It's called his "pre-sleep".
Remember when your mother said,
"Wear clean underwear in case you GET in an accident"?
Now you bring clean underwear in case you HAVE an accident!
You used to say,
"I hope my kids GET married.
Now, "I hope they STAY married!"
You miss the days when everything worked w/just an "ON" & "OFF" switch.
When GOOGLE, ipod, email & modem were unheard of. And a mouse was something that made you climb on a table.
You tend to use more 4 letter words like "what?" & "when?".
Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
Your husband has a night out w/the guys,
but he's home by 9:00PM. Next week it will be 8:30PM.
You read 100 pages into a book before you realize you've read it.
Notice everything they sell in stores is "sleeveless"?
What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
Everybody whispers.
Now that your husband has retired, you'd give anything if he'd find a job!

You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet ¦ 2 of which you will never wear.
But old is good in some things:
old songs, old movies,
And best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!!

'Love you, "OLD FRIEND!"
Share this with other "Old Friends!" & let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!!
It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived

I don't have my glasses on. I first read that 2nd picture as "Friends don't let friends go through tricks alone." What?! Some say that growing older is Nature playing tricks on us.... It's trials. If you've ever gone to court to support a friend, you know that you don't want to go through trials alone either.

I am a grandma, not as good a grandma as I would like to be - long distance - but I think about my grandparents. I knew them as a child, and also as an adult. What Mark Twain said about parents getting wiser as we grow up - same thing with grandparents - THEY change as WE age. In my genealogy I have plenty of instances where the kids were living back at home with the folks, raising their children with the help of the grandparents. Sometimes it's because of widowhood, or economic situations. But thank Goodness that the grandparents were there. Notwithstanding their getting old-er they did what they could to help raise their grandchildren. I am grateful for as much visiting with my grandmothers as I got, & as I gave :-) It goes both ways :-D Some day it will all make sense. We'll repent; we'll forgive. As my husband was fond of saying...all you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.

This is my mother's mother's mother, Sarah Delphina Eubank, and her father's parents, Rosannah Rohrer and Joseph Eubank, probably in Indiana about 1890-95.

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