Before my father died, he wrote a series of remembrances. Although there are errors in its family dates, it is an enormous wealth of information about my family.
It’s hard for me to discern exactly why Dad did this. He seemed to find satisfaction in situating his life story and that of his extended families in between contemporary historical events.
He was retired. It gave him a project for a while. He was in the beginning stages of Lewy Body Dementia and this made have contributed to his need to create a record of some kind before losing more of his own memory.
I had reason to reach for a volume yesterday when my cousin, Cheryl Miller (nee Midkiff), contacted me via email looking for family facts and pics.
I love the internets.
I was able to reach for Dad’s memoir and come up with some family names of ancestors Cheryl and I share. I passed on a few pictures sitting on my hard drive as well.
Eileen thought this would have made my Dad happy. She could be right about that. I have to say that I don’t think I ever knew my Dad very well. I certainly did not understand him. I think he loved me and I love him, but there did seem to be a barrier between us.
As I happily connect with Cheryl, the daughter of my Mom’s sister, I realize how little contact I have with extended family. Some of this is the inevitable result of how people are scattered all over and constantly moving around.
But some of it is I believe the inheritance of my particular family. My Mom was the only one of her family to leave West Virginia and go to college. It was a small church college, granted, but it was a huge step for her. Her sister and brother lived most of their life literally within a stone’s throw of their mother and father, Thelma and Jim. Though we visited West Virginia regularly and I have many fond memories of my cousins, aunts, uncles and Jim and Thelma, Mom struggled most of her adult life to find her place in her family of origin in her own mind.
On my Father’s side, he was estranged from his two older brothers for most of their lives. Dad chose to stay in the Church of God, becoming a minister like his father. His oldest brother Dave wisely put distance between himself and this part of his heritage. Jonny rejected the church stuff more emphatically. There are family stories of the damage done to Jonny as a kid which include beatings and humiliation around his repugnance with the Church of God.
My brother let drop the other day a little fact that Dad pushed his brothers away by trying to convert them back to the faith. I didn’t remember that. But I can see all of this as separation between family members.
I do have fond memories of my cousins, the children of Dave and Jonny. But at this point in my life I don’t really have relationships with any of my cousins.
On another internets topic, I have been having a pretty interesting discussion with Michael Cowgill, the music director of St. Michaels, West Retford, UK.
He is planning to perform Buxtehude’s organ setting of the Te Deum on All Saints at his church. He inquired on the English Church Music Facebook group if anyone knew why Buxtehude changed the order of the sections of the Te Deum.
I found this question interesting and began poking around.
I’m quite fond of Google Scholar and it led me to this book…
… which was sitting on the shelf at Hope College.
Snyder has a few pages on this piece and cleared up some of the confusion. He maintains the piece was garbled in transmission and the correct order follows the chant. He also notes that Buxtehude does not follow any extant cantus firmus melody exactly but quotes one that comes close.
I happily joined in conversation with Michael Cowgill across the world about this stuff.
I love the interwebs.