‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’ That’s an admonition we should all take to heart, that it may be well with us and with those who have given us life in so many ways. I know very well that some parents show no desire to care about their offspring. Some are intentionally harmful to their children. Yet most parents do care, whether they demonstrate it well or not. We honor our parents not because they deserve it but because we should. Alas, babies still don’t come with instruction manuals and our best intentions are too easily misplaced in the fray of life.
I remember listening to the lyrics of ‘Easy to be Hard’ as a young man concerned about people and social injustice. I believed, and still do, that we should live for a better purpose than self indulgence. Yet I wondered how anyone who really cared about people could fail to show how much they care about those dearest to them. Let me tell you, it’s apparently all too easy.
I am writing this article on the 69th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They didn’t have much, but what they had they committed to each other and to their family. I have been blessed with good, decent, honorable parents. They have faced challenges in life, as we all do, including the loss of a son. In recent years they have been dealing with the limiting effects of Parkinson’s disease. Yet they have known a good life, and they have shared it.
Sometimes parenthood isn’t about biology but about responsibility and choice. Both of my parents lost their father when they were young, Mom at age six and Dad at sixteen. Their mothers’ second marriages were to good men who took on step-families as their own. However we come by our parents, they bequeath a heritage that is ours to carry on.
My investigation of our heritage is a search for people living everyday lives in extended families and communities. I am not particularly interested in a list of names that lay a claim to ancient ancestry. I want to understand as much as I can about ancestors’ lives as they dealt with opportunities and difficulties not as unlike our own as we might think. This puts a personal face on history. It might even bring lessons of history to our own lives.
Here are a few pictures from my maternal and paternal families.
My mother, Lois Kidder, was the daughter of Marie Idell Fisher, who was the daughter of Florence Idell Dennis, who was the daughter of Rachel Powell.
Mom’s grandmother Florence Idell (Dennis) Fisher’s sister Mary Amy (Dennis) Bailey provided special care and attention for Mom while my grandfather Coyne Kidder was hospitalized with tuberculosis.
Aden and Verda Springsteen raised their family on a farm just south of Sheridan, Michigan. Aden Loyal Springsteen was the son of Loyal Davis “L.D.” Springsteen, who was the son of John S. Springsteen. Aden died from injuries sustained as a passenger in a car-train accident in 1941. This family picture was taken sometime between Loretta’s birth in 1931 and Johnnie’s death in 1934.
John S. Springsteen died around 1867 when L.D. would have been two years old. I wonder if John’s middle name might been Staats. John’s father Jacob was the oldest known son of Staats and Anna Springsteen.
This is also an anniversary of another sort. I launched Our Heritage five years ago today on my old web site. Here’s the initial post from the archives:
From the archives—Happy Anniversary!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
My parents, Ed and Lois Springsteen, were married on this day in 1947. This seems a most appropriate day to launch Our Heritage. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for more than I can say.