Friday, February 29

The Jigsaw that is Family.

I enjoy reading posts about people's families. I like to see the old photos, which can be quite revealing. The body language of couples. The family groups.

My Beloved Brother & I are lucky to know quite a lot about our family tree. Though our parents were parted when we were young, one of our mother's brothers had married one of our father's sisters. Their marriage lasted & so we were always close to them both, & our cousins of course, seemed more like our brother & sister.

Our Paternal Grandfather had died before I was born. I was the eldest grandchild on our father's side of the family. I can vaguely remember our Paternal Grandmother from when I was little, & when she stayed with my Aunt & Uncle after the birth of their daughter, when I was about 7 years old. Granny as I called her, was ill by then, & not a very cheery person. She had known me when I was very young, but since my parents were apart, she did not really know me at all, by that time. I don't really remember her then, & she was in constant pain, poor thing, so probably not inclined to want noisy children about.

I dont have many photos of her, except one as a young girl, & some shadowy little 'snaps', probably taken with a Box Brownie camera.

I do have these following photos of our Paternal Grandfather, who was known for his hunting & fishing pursuits. To the cost of his farm, according to our mother, & also his children! He was not known to like work a great deal, & our mother said he was too 'hearty & fellow well met' for her taste, & she never liked him. We are not sure, but we believe he died of cancer of the stomach, so perhaps his rather short life was spent in some pain.

He had quarrelled with his father, & left home at a very early age, never to return. He did write to his mother all his life apparently, & I wonder at her sadness at his leaving. How I wish I knew more about that history. We still have an Uncle & an Aunt alive, brother & sister of our father. We ask questions to try to learn as much as we can. I want to try to write it all down, so that one day should my children be interested they can refer to it all.

This photo is of our Grandfather bearing a deer head. It fills me with horror, but deer stalking in the season was one of the things our Grandfather, Father & Uncles did. They would eat the venison, & keep the antlers as souvenirs. They also went pig hunting, & would shoot wild pigs. Our mother's brothers went hunting too, & my mother & her youngest brother raised pet pigs from orphaned piglets that were brought home.
I always think our grandfather looked hearty enough in this photo! I have no idea how old he was then.

Here he is, looking older, with a huge trout he caught in the wild Waioeka River, which ran through the Waioeka Gorge.
This next photo, I think is of my Father with a deer he had shot. Horrible. I know the deer are an introduced species in New Zealand, & were taken there specifically for hunting purposes, but it still seems awful to me. Of course they have become a menace, & damage native habitat for flora & fauna.

This is a photo of our father's eldest brother, taken at a beach near where he lives, at Opotiki. He is now 90 years old, & still loves to fish the River when he can. His days of deer stalking are over, of course.

Because we grew up not seeing much of our Father, we never knew our half sisters & brothers, the children of his second marriage. When our father died, we finally got to meet some of them. One brother had died, when he was 16 years old, so we never met him. Another sister lives in Australia somewhere, & we have never met her.
This photo was taken at our Father's funeral. He was buried on what would have been his 73rd birthday. A cold & dreary day.
It always seemed a hell of way to meet our siblings.
My full brother is on the left, & I am on the right, next to our tallest brother.

Blood is thicker than water they say. I am sure this is true.
We really liked all our new found siblings.
It seemed terribly sad that we grew up not knowing them. For that matter, I don't really 'know' them today. I have seen one brother a couple of times since our father's funeral. I hear news of them from our mutual Aunt & Uncle.
My full brother is lucky enough to get to see one brother now & then, & has seen the other brother & sisters since.

The jigsaw pieces that are families.

I am very grateful to Josie, of Cie la Vie, who taught me how to get these posts to keep the paragraphs. I have been meaning to thank you Josie!

Simon & Garfunkel, The Dangling Conversation.


Mike said...

My grandfather also used to hunt all the time. I think it was a little different back then because people still relied on hunting to put food on the table.

Great photos Meggie and as usual, you are making me feel bad for not scanning in some old family photos that I have. I really need to get that done.

sheoflittlebrain said...

I love this post with all your family pictures..the hunters with thier trophy antlers, and your Grandfather's huge fish, and your far-seeing Uncle with the sea in the background.
I have a half sister whom I met twice in my life. Once when she was seven and once when she was in her early twenties. I have no idea where she is today..

Lovely post on your son's birthday.. He does look young for forty. I'm wishing him a sincere, Belated Happy Birthday!

ancient one said...

I loved reading about your family and seeing the photos. You have some real treasures there. My grandfather loved to hunt and fish also. I remember that he hated to have his picture taken. So far I've only found three (3).. two when he was young and one at an older birthday party. But this was the grandfather that lived right across the road all my growning up years. I have fond memories of him and pictures in my mind!

david mcmahon said...

G'day from Melbourne. You're so lucky to know a fair bit about your family tree.

My brothers and I are just trying to work out our tree!

crafty said...

Good on you for thinking of writing things down for your children.

I am always fascinated by little snippets of what my ancestors were like.

My mother had three half brothers she hardly knew, it can all be very confusing.

meggie said...

Hi All, I often think of that old song, "I am my own grandpa!"
With so many different strands of family these days it will be likely siblings will marry each other without realising they are even related.
When I was younger I was not all that interested in family tree information. Now I wish I had listened more, & also wish it had been written down. Some rellie has written a book -just for family- about the 4 sisters who married the 4 brothers, & we are all mentioned. It is a great reference, though my Aunt says there has been some fudging of dates, to cover 'early born' babies! Haha. The more things change the more they stay the same!

bluemountainsmary said...

Whilst those photos might be a bit disturbing they are pretty amazing too - as others have said they are real treasures. Glimpses into another world.

Thimbleanna said...

What a great group of siblings you are Meggie. Your story is much like that of my cousins. My uncle had two children by his first wife and 4 by his third wife. The third wife was an awful woman and insisted that her children not know about their older half siblings. We (the cousins) knew and loved them all. My 4th cousin was 15 when my grandmother died and that's when the younger four found out about the older two. He was very bitter and angry with his mother for a long time after that. Families are indeed a jigsaw puzzle!

Kitty said...

That's a lovely post Meggie - as you say, it's always interesting to learn more of the person behind the blog. x

Henri said...

Meggie , Our beloved Aunty R. gave me copies of those photos and I think all are of our Grandfather , at different ages .He was also actively involved with the ' Acclimatisation Society ' I think ,releasing trout into the rivers and as you mention about the deer , yes they certainly did become a pest and the NZ Government had to employ professional Deer Cullers to bring numbers down . I may be very lucky & get to see a few of the family soon if we get to K's birthday . I like the farseeing uncle comment, by sheoflittlebrain , I always thought our uncle G. had eyes that appeared as if they could see forever and since he was my hero I almost believed he could .

Tanya said...

Isn't it interesting that families are divided yet sometimes have contacts here and there. Probably mostly because of the good people who can overlook the history of the offenses and see each person as himself. In other cases, no matter how hard we try, we can't seem to be friends.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Family history is fascinating and it gets compulsive when you get into it. The only thing that always stops me is that I bet a lot of the children on trees weren't really fathered by the person who was there in the family unit. So I'm sure a lot of our trees are not quite right.

Lovely photos.

katydidnot said...

when my mom was a baby her mother used to cut herself out of every photo, putting gaping holes in the photos. and then she died when my mom was three. we all wish, especially my mom, for those holes to be filled in, you're right, these photos are treasures.

Linds said...

What a fascinating post, Meggie. Jigsaws and families....perfect example. I am also lucky enough to know a lot about my ancestors, and I find it fascinating. Great photos!

Molly said...

You have a very interesting family Meggie. You could add a mystery member by somehow editing out your father's face, leaving only the deer's---now what should we call him, hmmm?

Rosie said...

I suppose the only hunting my family did was on the shelves of grocery shops, but I don't have many photos of them at it!
I have finally finished your meme Meggie. It isnt easy to come up with seven facts that sum you up is it? I kept wanting to make myself nicer than I really am, but thought I'd better settle for the truth

Bren said...

Great post!! I love family pictures. I like to look at them and "wonder". Happy birthday to your son!!!

leslie said...

Hi Meggie, I find hunting awfully gross, too, but I guess if you need to eat...I just read your post about your son's b'day! What a cute little boy he was - and a handsome man now! And isn't it interesting to look at our families and their backgrounds - my sister is our family's historian and has gone back several centuries.

I've tagged you for a meme that's a bit different - Josie tagged me and I thought you might like to join in the fun. No obligation, though! :D

Mary said...

I'm so far behind on my blog I'll start with Happy Birthday!

I can't imagine having brothers and sisters and not knowing them. My sons have a half brother and half sister but they're not close to them. Luckily, they are pretty close to each other since it's just the two of them.

My ex and his father and brothers were all hunters. It's not something I miss being around.

Katie said...

The Tramp says your brother looks very like someone he knew in Wanganui that came from Opotiki!

Q said...

Thank you for sharing your family stories and photgraphs. I too enjoy reading about families.
Happy March!

Tanya Brown said...

I'm with you in not relishing the shots of assorted men with animals/animal parts. However, that's simply what men of a certain era did - went off and shot things. Here in the U.S., their offerings would appear on the Thanksgiving table.

I'm sorry you don't get to see your siblings much. It seems to me that your father could have done more to remember/see his first group of children, although his sort of attitude wasn't and isn't that uncommon.

julieQ said...

Families are a jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces are just missing, and others just don't seem to fit in anywhere.

My father used to hunt each year, and yes, we ate the meat for food. Seems barbaric now, but we did not have Tom Thumb grocery right down the street in those far-away years.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I have an award waiting for you. Please come by and collect it.

The Sagittarian said...

Haha, we foten say that the only thing on our family tree are nuts!! My husband has got a very extensive "tree" tracing all his rellies back to a wee village in Italy and going back quite a few generations. Very interesting post Meggie, wouldn't it be a laugh to find you were related to one of those commenting?!

meggie said...

Hi All, Some very interesting comments here. Some great laughs, I loved Molly's suggestion about photoshopping the stag's head!
I have often thought NZ is such a small country, the chances of being related to people we dont even know, is not so hard to contemplate!
What is it they say... it is a wise child that knows it's father!?
As someone else pointed out, the family tree must often contain stray twigs/leaves, so to speak!!

h&b said...

Great photos Meggie !!