“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

The rain started last night. It is still raining on and off and will continue to rain through tomorrow. It is another chilly day.

My kitchen floor is covered in paw prints. They lead from the door to the hall. They drive me crazy but cleaning them would be an exercise in futility, the old rock up the hill. I’ll just have to close my eyes when I walk into the kitchen.

I loved puddles when I was a kid. I used to walk in the gutters filled with flowing water and shuffle or stomp my feet as I walked. I never minded the soddened shoes and soaked bottoms of my pant legs, but my mother did.

We stayed inside our classrooms if it rained, no recess, no chance to run around after lunch. We were allowed to talk and move around the room, a rare event, an inside recess. The rest of the school day went slowly.

My dance card for the week has uke events and this Friday is the first play. It will be a busy June.

When I watch old movies, I always check the cast to see if I recognize any names. Sometimes a familiar name is way back in the credits, but mostly I don’t know the actors, even the stars. Out of curiosity I sometimes look up a few of those unknown actors. Often I can’t even find them.

Yesterday I did little. I read the papers, swept a couple of rooms and chased Nala to wrest the branches from her mouth. She was leaving bark all around the house. Today she is carrying an empty water bottle. She likes the crinkling sound.

I don’t know much about my grandfather’s life. He was never a man to chat. I don’t even think my dad knew much about his father’s family. We knew my grandfather’s family came from Ireland. His father’s name was Patrick. He was rumored to have been an alcoholic. I have pictures of my grandmother and her siblings and of my grandfather with her so we do know about her family, a big family. When I was young, I met her mother, one of her brothers and a couple of her sisters. It wasn’t until long after my grandfather had died that we found out he had a brother. That’s about all we know.

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4 Comments on ““If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Today was mostly cloudy and cool with a high of only 86°. It rained during last night because there were puddles on my driveway this morning.

    Recently my sister discovered that my maternal grandmother’s family name was not what we thought it was. It turned out that we thought their last name was Krupnick. When they were still living in Russia near the city of Odessa, there was a young man who died in his early twenties. The family took the name of the dead man and adopted that name for themselves to prevent my great uncle from being drafted into the Russian army. Being Jewish in the army of the Czar was not a good idea. The Czar didn’t have any love for his Jewish subjects. The Czar planned that one third of the Jews of Russia would emigrate, one third would be forcibly converted to Christianity while serving in the army, and a third would die of starvation. My mother’s family decided to be among those who left Imperial Russia. No one knows what their real last name was before they stole the dead man’s papers.

    I assume it really doesn’t matter what your family name was as long as they survived. My paternal grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in 1905 and the immigration officer asked my grandfather how he spelled his last name. My grandfather didn’t know how to spell his last name in English. The Immigration officer asked him to which of the three religious groups did he belong. Jewish men can either be descendants of Moses, and are considered Levites, descendants of Aaron and be considered priests, or Kohanim in Hebrew. All the rest are Israelites. You find out which group you are descended from through your father. This is ceremonially important to know after your Bar Mitzvah. My grandfather replied to one of the three and that became our family’s last name.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      We had rain on and off all day. It stayed in the low 50’s. Tomorrow should be much like today while it will be in the 60’s the rest of the week.

      I figure your family was smart to use the dead man’s name. It is not as if he’d be using it anymore. What horrible choices. Emigrating was the best choice by far. How awful that starvation was a choice, as if it really was!

      My grandmother’s family was Portuguese. Their actually last name was Rodriques, but it was changed at Ellis to Rogers which was before my grandmother’s was born. She had brown hair and eyes. My Irish grandfather, her husband, had blue eyes and blond hair. I have a set of twin cousins. He has my grandmother’s coloring while she has my grandfather’s.

      I did not know there were three religious groups. Being patriarchal is not uncommon. The current generation of the British royal family would have been the first for the oldest child to inherit regardless of whether it was a girl or boy. The law was changed before George was born. Charlotte, had she been first born, would have been the monarch after William.

      The largest tribe in Ghana is matriarchal. The Ashantene, the chief of that tribe, inherited through his mother’s family. All the other tribes are patriarchal.

      • Bob Says:

        Interestingly, you are Jewish through your mother. This was done because a child always knows who is their mother because she carries the child until term. The father could be anyone.

      • katry Says:

        That almost seems like misogyny.

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