other thoughts


[Wednesday: 45 min on TM (3 miles); today 45 min on TM (3 miles)]

Our big event this week was the birth of our first grandchild. So we are now Grandpa and Grandma.

Both of my grandfathers were born in 1910. I was born in 1961. When I was born they were both 51 years old. I have two older siblings and some older cousins. So my grandparents became such when they were in their mid-40’s. Yes, I will be 60 years old this year, roughly 15 years older than they were. I worked for awhile with one of my grandpas when he was semi-retired. I was about 15 so he must have been about 65.

I don’t really have a point, just comparing.

I had the new sensation this week of passing things on. Now my kids are having their own kids. That somehow seems to be a big milestone.

I like children. My parents had 4. From us 4 we’ve produced 5 more. And from those 5 so far there are 2. (And there are some step children in there who fill things up and shouldn’t be forgotten.) All of my grandparents, from the early 1900’s, came from large families of 8-10 kids. The world has changed since then.

But I freely admit my preferences are nothing more than that. I liked my childhood with my 3 siblings.

3 replies on “Grandpa”

100 years ago before birth control we were a more agrarian society. Make lots of kids as they can do chores and grow food and store food. The older ones take care of the younger ones. Before Social Security, children took their parents in when they needed care as they aged. By contrast, our oldest surviving grandparent was taken care of by the state. By extension, I feel no obligation to take care of my (our) parents when they need it. Clyde spent years in a double occupancy room and, unless I am mistaken, didn’t have sunlight hit his skin ever again once entering that building.

One thing I like with how things are happening these days culturally is that the antiquated patriarchal mechanism of last name being carried to the next generation by men in the Howard family (our family specifically, not the name itself) is going away – unless one single solitary man ends up having a kid. (That could happen and that’s fine.)

I like that people wait until they are older to have kids. And also that there is less societal pressure on people to have kids at all. This means that when people have kids they _want_ to have kids – not because of what others think. Every child a wanted child.

I think you are right about the historical trends. The shift came between the agrarian world pre-WWI and the birth-control world of 1950’s.

We disagree about a few things. I think your facts are a little off on the Clyde situation. He sometimes made excursions, and he had visits nearly every day from his son. Maybe there were a few days missed, but not many. That is a luxury not many elderly people enjoy.

Personally I like having family. I feel like I get along well with my parents and in-laws and children. I don’t put in as much work on these relationships as I ought to. Or maybe I could say the same thing in a different way: I feel like I get more out of the interactions then I put into them. (Maybe that is why I would like to have more such connections.)

And I like the antiquated patriarchal name passing. But then I am an antiquated patriarchal kind of guy. Name passing is the remains of clan and tribe ties which many people think are easily left behind in modern times, a complete contrast to the scientific evidence of genetics and DNA. But it is the modern dream to reimagine one’s self even to the composition of chromosomes.

Which brings me back to the handing-off-the-future feeling: A little baby was born that has some part of my DNA both physically and culturally and that gives me emotional satisfaction that I was not expecting. I wish good success and long life to all little babies. But somehow this particular one is special to me. I consider that a good intention and hope I can act upon it effectively over the rest of my life.

I apologize – I visited Clyde a few times and he didn’t mention any excursions. I would ask him what he did with his time but not focus on it too much as it would inevitably be depressing to him and he’d wish the lord would take him home because he missed Ludeema. I feel better knowing he went outside. His skin looked pale and almost translucent. I am sure many people visited him – I was referring to where he lived and who was primarily responsible for his care and the state taking care of him, as it does for so many these days – even those who do not have children – and should have left it at that.

Decades ago I took a class on Iowa history at ISU. One book we read was the one below – and I think you may enjoy it. I do not recall details but it centers on the change of agrarian life that happened around WWII that we are discussing a bit.

O&BTW, this was my professor in that history class – she really was wonderful. It’s one of those things where you luck into something and appreciate it after getting in and still more years later. She was one of those people that made me truly understand the value of the humanities. No it won’t help me find a job but that’s okay. She said whenever she and her husband took road trips they would avoid the Interstate – purposefully taking advantage of the trip to see America closer up and slower. (I still do that as much as is practical.)

The DNA thing and last name fascinates me as it is mitochondrial DNA from the mother that passes through, as I understand things. When I read about tracing people’s lineage back generations, it’s a woman thing – the last name has no importance. That being said, in America, the last name of many black families is that of the family that owned them several generations ago.

One thing I didn’t mention is people in olden times had a lot of kids but a lot of them died. In this era of pandemic that should have been too of mind in my thoughts. So here was a risk mitigation factor.

The importance of “parents” without DNA connection. Orphaned at 6 years old.

Andrew Jackson Northway born March 17, 1876 near Polk City, Iowa. Son of Herman and Susan Brown Northway. His father came to Iowa from New York State about 1846 and had already raised one family. He was seventy years old when Andrew was born, and his wife, Susan was thirty-six. [JDH 34 year spread – Susan had to know Herman wouldn’t be around long when having Andrew.] Susan died when Andrew was three years old, and Herman died when he was six years old. Herman and Susan are buried near Polk City, Iowa.

Andrew was brought to the Woodland Community in Polk County, Iowa when he was eight years old, by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Crewse of that community. He made his home there until he was about sixteen years old. Then he went to live with Doug Johnson of the Woodland Community. He worked for Doug Johnson until he was nineteen years old. He was then united in Marriage to Louisa Belle Fox. To this union were born thirteen children.

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