So I had a crazed day, picking up the flooring, painting, packing up the studio, discovering that they had shorted us a box of flooring, picking THAT up, driving to another Lowes to get the thing that they forgot to order, etc.
I got home to find a package waiting from my parents, which included, among sundry gifts, a handwritten genealogy from my mother. I was preparing my eyes for rolling–I do not find this as fascinating as she does–but when I unfolded the five pages of snaking names with small handwritten notes and carefully calligraphied names of nations*, I had to laugh.
The first two pages, ending in me and my kid brother, are fairly straightforward. It includes the great grandfather and the mannish trick rider and a number of others with notes about how they died coming to America, how this one was a brandymaker shot by the British in 1666, the one Increase Mather wrote about who was massacred by Indians (accounts of the battle would indicate he rather had it coming) and my personal favorite, the minister and noted oriental scholar defrocked for impregnating a maidservant, who later came to America with a number of followers. His wife was very angry with him–”Well, she would be,” Kevin pointed out–and hit him with something which, owing to my mother’s handwriting, appears to be a carp. (Probably not ACTUALLY a carp, but I rather like this version.)
After the first couple of pages, however, Mom started having some fun with it, so a number of generations are skipped over and indicated with rather long arrows, and we get into the really illustrious relatives. If this sheet of paper is to be believed, we are distantly related to several kings of the Visigoths, a couple of Baldwins**, Emperor Charlemagne, a terrifying number of Frankish dukes and sundry Burgundians. (Those arrows clearly cover a LOT of ground…) Since some of those figures can be traced back to positively mythical roots and Mom really likes her arrows, my family tree now includes several Norse demigods, Brunhilde, Lud of the Silver Hand, Bran the Blessed, the Tuatha de Danann, Joseph of Aramathea, Cleopatra, and a suggestive little Ptolemy x Alexander? although there aren’t any offspring off that particular shoot.
At this point she hit the limit of the paper and available mythology, and simply put arrows running off the page labelled “To Troy—”> and “To Ur—>”
Kevin, it must be said, greeted the knowledge that I was hypothetically descended from Visigoths with great aplomb. “I can see it,” he said.
“Not known for their tact, the Visigoths.”
“Oh c’mon…I’m sure they said “excuse me, pardon me, coming through,” when they sacked Rome…”
Generally I find family trees quite tedious, but I gotta give her a big shout-out on this one. I always wanted to be related to Lud of the Silver Hand.
*I appear to be mostly from Prussia.
**If memory serves, one of them had leprosy!