Family History

I love getting tidbits of family history. Saturday morning, as I struggled to find a hobby that didn’t involve using my left hand (non-dominant hand), I was talking to my mom and got an interesting tidbit. Most of my mom’s siblings are close in age to the kids above and below them in the birth order and there were 7 of them. My mom is the second youngest. And was only 17 months older than the youngest. As we talked, she dug out an old memory and I found it a bit weird and giggled…

My mom’s father died when she was 4 in a work related accident. However, for some reason he could not tell his youngest and second youngest child apart. Now, any of us with siblings knows there is always that possibility when our parents are frustrated or mad at us that they will call us by a siblings name. But that isn’t the case with my grandfather and his two youngest girls… he was constantly calling them by each other’s names once they both got to walking age.

I have also learned my grandfather was completely colorblind in an “unconventional way.” Mom can’t give details on the “how daddy was completely colorblind” just that he was and her mom said it wasn’t normal color blindness. Which might explain why I can’t tell shades of color and as I shopped for yarn with my mom this past year, I realized she can’t either. I was trying to match skeins of yarn and mom said a color was X and I said it was Y and after a couple minutes of this discussion a total stranger informed us we were both wrong it was color A. I can’t tell similar shades of the same color apart – give me four shades of blue and I can tell you they are all blue, but I can’t tell if they are cornflower, Robin’s egg, teal, or aquamarine because to me they will all look like the most dominant shade of blue. I can tell Navy from Robin’s Egg blue, but I have trouble telling navy from eggplant or black.

Because of this, I tend to dislike certain forms of art – those blurry pastel watercolor paintings by Monet and others just look like color blobs and the color blob can change based on the colors around the painting as well as the dominant color used in the painting itself. It’s a strange thing to be told “You know there’s a boat and a bridge there right?” When looking at a painting because the answer was no. There was a lot of blue, a bit of green, and eventually the person with me was like “and there’s a picnic going on.” I’ve seen the original; I can’t remember the name of the painting or the painter, I just remember I didn’t see what she saw because the painting is primarily a very light blue and I guess those other things are white. And so I couldn’t distinguish them because I couldn’t tell the white from the blue. I continue to go to art galleries and museums because when I can see all the details of a piece of artwork they tend to be beautiful, but there are some paintings that just don’t mean anything to me. I believe my mom has this same problem.

At any rate, I’ve gotten off topic. Most of my mom’s siblings don’t talk about their childhood, so sometimes I wonder if I know more about my grandparents than my cousins, even though my cousins are all older than me and had more time with our grandmother who passed away in the 1990s. I really only have a handful of memories of my grandmother; I remember her teaching me to crochet chains and that she had a houseful of dachshunds that were all biters and hated me. My mom always had to carry me through the house to keep the dachshunds from chewing on me.

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