Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A side trip...

This set of two blogs is not strictly genealogically related. They were written in the emergency room on Friday morning, November 20.

* * *

Then comes the telephone call you always dread. “There’s been an accident.” This time it’s the son who’s a motorcycle policeman. He’s already had one motorcycle mishap off duty. And he was unwittingly the first responder when his dad was involved in a collision a few years before that.

I noticed that I was still humming a silly Christmas song a few minutes after the call came. Reality sometimes takes a while to get through. The call to his sergeant brought no response, nor did the call to the emergency room.

Deciding that I was just going to have to drive in, my mind finally started working, but in the wrong direction. I began to imagine all the things that might have happened and became somewhat desperate. Let me reassure you that 911 won’t give out any information, even if it is the patient’s mother who is calling.

Because I was driving a little too fast, I started defending myself. “My boy is hurt.” Surely the official world would understand. A fleeting thought went through my mind—how many of the drivers of neighboring vehicles had a similar concern clawing at their sanity?

Finally, I regained my senses and asked the most reliable Source. Being subsequently reassured and comforted, I continued the trip to the hospital in relative peace.

The son wasn’t feeling so peaceful by the time I arrived. X-rays revealed a double break just above the left ankle, both spiral and slightly displaced. A hearty expression of gratitude for those fancy, knee-high leather boots which provided some much-needed protection against a compounding of the injury.

Surgery tonight, recuperation, but nothing life threatening. Not a pleasant experience, but bearable.

On my way back into the hospital following a trip outside, I saw a woman coming from the parking lot with a “Sorry” game under her arm. Since we wound up in the elevator together, I asked her if she was going to see someone who needed to play. “Yes, a grandson in intensive care. He has cancer.”

I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for bones that can heal.

* * *

Not being accustomed to the ER clientele, I found myself bombarded by an unfolding drama in the next cubicle while I waited for my son to return from his x-rays. The sounds emanating from behind the protective curtain were disturbing...a revelation to me of destitution and despair in their more escalated forms.

I know of people who experience depression when their lives are relatively positive. Here was a sufferer who seemed to have nothing hopeful in life to counteract the pain. The responses reminded me of a wounded, cornered animal.

Whether the patient’s own choices contributed to the offending circumstances is obviously unknown. But these conditions seemed desperate, perhaps even insurmountable. How could life become that horrendous?

One of the physicians went in to talk to the patient. I was impressed by his kind calmness in the face of verbal rejection. He actually seemed to make some progress, unlike a later interrogator who appeared only to revive the violent emotions.

We got moved to a quiet room shortly thereafter. I never saw the patient’s face, but the aural memory of anguish will remain with me for a long time. How much suffering must exist in this world, much of it hidden behind other curtains which we hesitate to draw back.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Which way did he go, George?

I can’t now remember what kind of a baked item it was, but when we were growing up Mother made something that sometimes had a little curly-cue on the top, kind of like a Dairy Queen cone but not so looped. Since we were kids, we created a game associated with these edibles. It became common for us to say, “He went that-a-way!” and point in the direction the topknot was headed. In our fertile minds, it had become the leavings of a dog surprised (and subsequently scared off) in the act of relieving himself. (Sorry for the rather crass reference so early in the morning!)

But as I look at the many surname files I’ve created on my computer, I kind of think we should develop some kind of a system to let us know what direction we were taking off in when we started pursuing some of these obscure surnames...and why. It might save a lot of confusion later on.

For example, last night I wound up pursuing the surname OSTRANDER. That was interesting because it was a line that did move to Colorado, originally from New York and then Illinois. And there was a girl in my high school with that last name, which obviously prompted a curiosity about whether or not she might have come from this particular line.

So later today I will probably create an OSTRANDER surname file. However, unless I make some helpful notes at the beginning of the file, I’ll have no idea why I was interested in the OSTRANDERs.

Consequently, may I suggest (for all of us who don’t already do something similar) that at the very beginning of a trip along another branch of the family tree that we leave some indication of why we’re going? A simple note like “I began researching the OSTRANDERs because I learned that George W. MINKS, grandson of David SCOTT, Sr., married a Mary E. OSTRANDER in 1885.”

That way we won’t have all these miscellaneous twigs floating around in our files which leave us wondering how they’re supposed to be grafted back into the tree. We’ll know “which way” our minds were headed when we suddenly took off in a totally new direction.

Just a thought as we begin a new month!