You know I love Stasha’s Monday Listicles at The Good Life because all you have to do is list 10 things, link-up, and Bob’s Your Uncle! So come on over and link-up! This week’s fabulous topic (chosen by me!) is your Family Tree. Here are 10 miscellaneous things about my family tree.
PS: I don’t know why I needed to use so many exclamation points in this post but I did! Try not to let them distract you!! Also, I did 11 listicles instead of 10!
My Family Tree!
1. My mother was born in Lithuania. Her father had 14 sisters – 7 older, and 7 younger! Can you imagine?? Her mother was born in Russia. This is why my mom spoke something like 40,000 kajillion languages.
Isn’t the resemblance Fiona has to my mother uncanny? It’s like that short story by Aimee Bender where a woman gives birth to her own mother:
2. While getting his doctorate, my grandfather shared a dorm room at university with Czelaw Milosz, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature!! They became lifelong friends! (I know!) I met him! Mr. Milosz wrote about my grandfather in one of his books:
“I lived with a friend on the same floor dormitory in the Taurus Mountains and knew that his poor subsistence living (and Vilnius was an extremely cheap city) came from the American press for which he wrote correspondence (he was a hard-bitten atheist). When he would run out of funds I would buy him a meal. He was very tall with a shock of brown hair that fell over his spectacles. He was very bright and taught at the university. His political influence on me explains why, when I moved into Warsaw I knew ten more communists than the API all of my fellow writers put together, because he followed everything about the eastern wall. I was also witness to his long and severe depression as it manifested itself in neuroticism. He was a revolutionary whose future was taken from him by the atrocity of war.“
3. When he moved to Canada my grandfather had to go to work in the coal mines. There was an article in the newspaper with a photo of him smiling, wearing a coal miner’s helmet:”Prominent Judge Works in the Mines.” After he learned English, he ran for Canadian Parliament.
4. A few months before I was born my grandfather spent time in a a psychiatric hospital, and on the day he was released – after they thought he was okay – he killed himself. My mother was devastated.
5. I hated celebrating Christmas with my aunt’s family, who are all vehement atheists. One Christmas I asked them: “If you don’t believe in God, why are you celebrating the birth of Jesus?” (Our family dinners were like that.)
6. My father’s family was from New Zealand. They were not atheists.
7. My dad’s father was a golfer who founded some of NZ’s golf courses.
He built the house where my dad grew up, and named it Vailema. It was a dream-house with a built-in system of bells for servants and everything. You could press a button, and the library wall would open into a secret room!
8. In 1953 my grandfather received an MBE award from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace!
(The Beatles have MBE’s! They wore them on the cover of their Sgt. Pepper album! Mick Jagger has one! I’m pretty sure this means that I’m somehow related to the Beatles and this fact should raise my Klout score. Are you listening, Klout?)
9. My grandmother wrote this in my father’s baby book under First Sentence, 1925:
“You are such a bloody nuisance.”
10. My mother’s family had to flee Lithuania and escape to Berlin during the war when she was around the same age Ella is now.
They became “Germanicized,” and my mom spent her formative years growing up in Nazi Germany during the bombing of WW II and attending compulsory Hitler Youth Camp. She never told me about youth camp until I found a photograph of her with a bunch of girls in braids doing a heil Hitler. She told me she didn’t want to go, but everyone had to go. (Note: She hated Hitler and called him “a shwein hund with only one testicle.”)
After the war they spent five harrowing years in DP camps before emigrating to Canada when she was 16. My mom reminded me of Meryl Streep’s character in Sophie’s Choice.
11. My mom had an uncle named Uncle Stassis who was so creepy she called him Uncle Disease.