Friday, January 21, 2011

Genealogical Epiphany: A Blessed Injury

I recently made a Storybook (photo book) for my uncle, which required scanning my dad's negatives from the 1950s. The fun part was getting together with my maternal aunt so she could tell me who the people in the pictures were. But she mentioned something that really surprised me. She said, matter-of-factly, that my uncle's brothers were given a vaccine in the military that made them sterile. What?!

Yes, she nodded. Something that was supposed to protect them from biological warfare. Hallie never had any children. Neither did Husie. Clark had a child before going off to war (I'm not sure if this was World War II or the Korean War), but never had any more after he came home. My uncle, who never went into the military, had children, and so did his sister.

I filed that tidbit away in the back of my mind and a couple of busy weeks passed. Then one morning in the shower (a popular place for brainstorms), I started thinking about my dad's side of the family. Daddy's brothers served in World War II. It suddenly occurred to me that Jack never had any children (he had a stepson). Gene couldn't have children, so he and his wife adopted. Wayne never had children, either. All three were overseas in combat. Their younger brother Randall had children (16 years apart!), but he stayed in the U.S., stationed in Texas near the end of the War. Most of our cousins came from the girls in the family.

I think Daddy was drafted. He packed his things, gave his class ring to his sweetheart (Momma) and reported in. But Daddy had a bad ear from a childhood injury, and they sent him home. That ear bothered him all his life.

I'm not one of those anti-government people at all; I've always relegated clandestine experiments and government cover-ups to the X-Files and other fiction. And this is all conjecture; I don't have any proof.

But here's the epiphany (as the water in the shower grows colder) — if it weren't for Daddy's injured ear, my sister and I might not be here.

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