A possibly relevant anecdote

A note: I am writing this immediately after the post from last night, and the way things are going it is entirely possible that events will have rendered this post out of date by the time it pops. Today is my mother’s first birthday since she passed away in January, and the immediate family is getting together, so I won’t be around, thus the pre-written post. Which at this point is going to be shorter than the disclaimer.

Further, if something does happen and I suddenly start talking about having converted to some major world religion or another, you know why.

I have been thinking about this story for a good chunk of the day: A good friend’s stepfather passed away several years ago. I feel like it was Parkinson’s, but if it wasn’t it was something similar; one of those terrible wasting sorts of diseases that always come with a life expectancy, sometimes expressed in months and sometimes in years, and sometimes can be managed, and sometimes cannot. I remember finding out he had this disease, and asking my friend how long the doctors had said he had.

My friend gave me a number, and then paused, thinking about it. “He’s not got that long,” he said. “There’s no fight in him.” And, indeed, he was gone fairly quickly after the diagnosis.

And, honestly, I can’t think of anyone with less fight in them than the person in the White House Walter Reed Hospital.

Taking tonight off

The boy’s birthday is tomorrow and we have family over, so I’ll see y’all Sunday.

RIP, Richard Ira Siler, 1935-2020

One of the odder changes in my life since the coronavirus became a thing is that I’ve become the type of person who scans the obituaries every couple of days. It’s rather surprising how many people I’ve found that I know at least tangentially; the former owner of OtherJob, an occasional relative of a student, that sort of thing.

And today I came across Richard Ira Siler’s obituary, and … well, it raised an eye.

Luther Michael Siler, remember, is a pen name. Each of the three names is a family name; Luther is my paternal grandfather’s first name, Michael is my mother’s maiden name, and Siler is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. As it works out, my great-grandfather’s name was Jesse Siler.

And damned if this gentleman doesn’t have a “J. Clifford Siler” as his father’s name and a “Jesse Jr.” among his brothers. I have seen Jesse Siler’s grave; he is buried next to his second wife (my great-grandmother divorced him, which must have been quite a thing back then) whose name is Minnie Jo Buck, according to her tombstone. Richard Siler’s mother’s name is Miriam Siler, according to the obituary; it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch that Miriam might have been called Minnie. My grandmother was born in 1917 and was the oldest child, so Jesse still having children in 1935 with his second (or possibly even third, as the family seems to have mostly lost track of him after the divorce) wife is entirely possible. Hell, my mom’s oldest sister and youngest brother are 17 years apart.

If I search the Internet for “Jesse C. Siler,” I find an ancestry.com link for “Jesse Clifford Siler,” too, so it seems entirely reasonable to believe that that’s the same guy, and further confirmation that “J” stands for “Jesse,” as if there’s any real chance that it wouldn’t given that there’s a Jesse Jr. in the family. I didn’t look any further, because I’m not signing up for ancestry.com at the moment, but I’m willing to take that as evidence enough, given what else we have in front of us.

So it looks like this guy was my (half?) first cousin once removed, or at least is reasonably likely to have been. I never met him and never knew he existed until about twenty minutes ago, but he seems to have been a lovely fellow. I hope his family is holding up as well as they can be under the circumstances, and may his memory be a blessing.

(The punch line: Great-grandpa Jesse’s first wife, my biological great-grandmother, was named Juanita. Her maiden name? Pence. My uncle assures me that he has dug into it and we are not related to That Pence, but it’s skeevy enough just that there’s a chance.)

(EDIT: The plot thickens. I just spent half an hour digging through a bunch of paperwork my dad gave me after mom passed away, and it looks like “my” Jesse Siler was Jesse Edward, not Jesse Clifford. J.E. Siler’s father was Harry, and it was his wife who was Minnie Jo. I don’t have any additional information about his family– no siblings or anything like that. I continue to think the guy is a cousin of some sort but the 1st-once-removed link now looks a bit less likely.)

(Also, George Washington Pence’s obituary, dated 1903, if I remember right, is a trip. I may try to get a good scan of it and post the whole thing.)

It’s my birthday

… my first one without my mom. 44. And, frankly, it has already been a rough day and I’ve only been up for about an hour. I didn’t get to sleep until about 2:30 in the morning last night because I couldn’t shut my brain down.

Every time I say things like “I probably won’t be around much today,” it leads to a 6,000-word essay, but it’s still pretty likely that I won’t be around much today.

Mizu, 1998-2020

Mizu, frequently referred to here as the Great Old One, decided last week that eating wasn’t something she was especially interested in any longer, and I bowed to necessity and had to have her put to sleep yesterday afternoon. I got her right after starting graduate school in 1998; she was a kitten, having been born (in Japan, believe it or not) in March; I probably got her in September or October. She was 22 years old, was the first pet who was really mine, and has been with me for my entire adult life.

Despite how I usually react to these things, I’m finding that I don’t really want to talk about this one. I’m having a very hard time with this. I hope everyone understands.