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Writing Memoir – Ramble

July 11, 2018

Part 1 Page 33 Ramble

 A useful exercise if you are unclear about your subject matter. Follow any train of thought that comes to you. Think about the theme you might want for your memoir.

I’m not at all sure of the theme that I want to have for my memoir, but I might want to explore the fact that I never knew my Dad’s family, when I was growing up.

As a small child, I always knew that Dad didn’t have parents, and was an orphan from a young age. That was just a fact that we always knew, that was never questioned or explained. Now that I’m older, it makes me feel very ashamed that as children, we never asked Dad about his parents. There was no sense of secrecy around this at all. It was just something that was never mentioned, Perhaps, because they died more than twenty years before we were born and long before Dad met Mum.

We knew that Dad had 10 brothers and sisters and was the second youngest child in the family. Up until  I was about nine years old, some of his brothers would occasionally visit when they were in town. They lived in Melbourne and would come to Shepparton to visit their sister and Dad. It was because his sister lived in Shepparton, that Dad met Mum.

I’m not sure what happened, or if there was some sort of falling out, but Dad’s brothers and sisters eventually stopped coming. We did see his sister who lived in Shepparton, occasionally.

I’m positive that Dad didn’t have a falling out with his siblings, as in later years he only spoke glowingly of them. When Dad was growing up, he was very close to his family, so if there was any estrangement at all, I’m sure it would have caused him much pain.

Later, when I was in my early forties, I started to research my Dad’s family history. One of the things that amazed me. was to find that I had a large number of first cousins. The numbers grow and grow, when starting to add up the second cousins.

Even today this feels very strange to me. When I was growing up, I only had contact with four cousins.They were the children of Mum’s sister. We eventually lost touch with Dad’s sister in Shepparton, and Mum’s family were the only family I knew as I was growing up.

When I was in primary school, I was always envious of my friends who had many cousins. I can remember thinking how great that would be. These thoughts are so clear in my memory, that they seem to be a theme thoughout my younger years. I was good friends with my cousins that I knew, but always felt that something was missing. Why couldn’t I have many cousins as my friends did? This was a constant thought.

In later years, I have met many of my cousins from Dad’s side, and feel much regret that we didn’t know each other as children.

As instructed, this exercise does feel like a ramble, as I try to get my thoughts together around the topic of my missing family.

  • The writing exercises in this series are from Patti Miller’s book – Writing True Stories, published in 2017, by Allen & Unwin.

From → Family stories

  1. Hi Jen, isn’t family history fascinating. I have many cousins but mainly we always saw the ones on my Mum’s side of the family. It is easy to lose touch as families grow, move away and start their own families. A cousin of mine on Dad’s side of the family, contacted me through about 5 years ago now and I hadn’t spoken to him since his engagement party about 40 odd years ago! It has been wonderful to reconnect.

    • That’s a fantastic story about your cousin Sue. It’s much easier to stay in touch these days with SM.

      • It has been wonderful connecting, Jen. Thanks also for sharing at #MLSTL it is always lovely to have you as part of the group. 🙂

  2. Isn’t it funny how as children we seem to accept things at face value with no questions? My great-grandmother was from Germany and I wish I had asked more questions so I knew more of our history.

    • I think we need age on our side, before it occurs to us that one day it may be too late to find out the family stories. One of the first things I was taught during my study for genealogy qualifications was to talk to elderly ancestors immediately. Recently I spent a day learning about German research. It’s fascinating.

  3. I would imagine that anyone who comes from a father with a family of 11 children would have multitudes of cousins – I guess being an orphan would have fragmented the family and that might be why they lost contact with each other? I bet you’ve loved finding all the family connections over time. I have a grand total of five cousins – pretty slim pickings!

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL – I’ve shared this on my SM x

    • I have really loved researching Dad’s family history Leanne. When Dad was younger they all stuck together and tried to keep in touch, but I think age, distance and starting their own families caused them to drift apart. There was nothing sinister in it, I’m sure.

  4. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris
    I have cousins by the dozens and I do my best to keep in touch with as many as possible. They are an intergral part of my life. It’s a strange feeling now though, to be the second eldest cousin on both sides of my family. What still puzzles me though is that for years, we played with the children across the road and yet it was only as an adult, I found out that they were related on my mother’s side… still trying to join all the dots!

  5. Molly Totoro permalink

    I have no problem sitting down and writing about life 🙂 I just need to make the time to do so (because once I start I don’t want to stop). It is so important to document family history for the next generation, don’t you think?

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