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by hiryuu
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1685173
Some interesting points in my family tree, as given by my mother on her deathbed.
Word Count: 923

The Famous Person Next To You

  As my mother lay on her deathbed, succumbing to the ravages of cancer, we often passed the time talking about one of her favorite hobbies. Through the years she had developed her skills as an amateur genealogist, and traced our family history back to its origins in Europe. She managed a complete history with no holes or missing branches in the family tree. As her illness progressed, the pain she was suffering became more evident, and visiting the family’s history was a great way to occupy her mind.

  As could be expected, the routine questions lead off my investigation into what she had found. I asked her if there was anyone famous in our history, and was surprised to find out that our family tree touched on more than one famous individual. Nearest to our current relations was the King family that settled in Texas and established the King Ranch. This family owned massive amounts of ranchland, and built one of the most enterprising cattle ranches in the south at the time. In fact, the ranch was so well known and recognized, the Ford Motor Company named a model year of its farm grade pickups, the King Ranch Series around the turn of the century.

  Through the days she often talked about the minor details a person comes across in reviewing their family history. She laughed when she talked about how my grandmother used to badmouth the “redbones” of southern Louisiana, a mix of Creole, Native American, and French. Grandmother used to put on airs, talking about how ladies should act and be respectable, having nothing to do with the likes of those hoodlums. Mom had not started her genealogical adventure by the time Grandmother died, which was probably a good thing. She was able to trace our ancestry through the French, Creoles, Jayhawkers and all the way back to where my Great Grandfather, three times removed, lived in a teepee with his Native American wife outside Jamestown before the Civil War. We both had a good laugh over that one.

  Still, there must be more I thought, and as each day passed I pressed her for more interesting stories about my family history. On several occasions she would pry loose some of the fascinating things you find out about your own family when the proper research is done. For the most part, she had to rely of birth and death records, but she would also scan news articles of the time period to see if anything jumped out. On some occasions she found stories that were really interesting.

  At one point on Dad’s side of the tree, there was a man who owned a mercantile, and had three sons. Two of the sons were hard working, and both showed promise in taking over the family business. The remaining son was a drunk, who gambled and chased women day and night. He was unreliable and often caused trouble, which lead to the interruption of business for the others as they were forced to bail him out of jail, or make restitution for the damages he caused. The rowdy brother was the eldest of the sons, and the other two often regretted their inability to whip the tar out of him. As this went on for years, it all began to wear thin on the other brothers.

  Finally fed up with their older sibling, they devised a plan to settle this problem for good. The eldest brother also had the habit of wandering off for a few days at a time, on a good drunk and searching out "fresh pickings" so to say from the surrounding communities. The other two siblings saw this as an opportunity to initiate their plan. One evening they went out on the town with their older brother, and commenced to getting him fall-down drunk. Once he was totally unconscious, and probably near a state of acute alcohol poisoning, they put their plan into action.

  They took him to the shipping warehouse were they usually received all the incoming goods for the mercantile. They nailed their brother up in an oversized shipping crate with enough food, water and booze to last through the trip. They paid the cargo handlers, they knew well from their regular business, not to open the crate until it reached its destination. The two younger brothers spent half their savings shipping their older brother to the newly formed state of Arizona. They were sure that without any money to return, that would probably be the last they saw of him.

  Upon arrival in Arizona, the older brother was forced to come to grips with the realities of his past actions. Once released from his impromptu prison, he took a few weeks to clean up and detoxify from the thralls of alcoholism. Once clean and sober, he went on to marry a fine lady in Tucson. She had enough family money from back east, and they opened a general store that is still in business today.

  Before my mother finally lost her battle with cancer, we visited many more family stories, just as exciting as that one. It never ceased to amaze me how everyday people can step up to the moment and show their true grit. She left with me a quote that summed up her joy in genealogy.

  “The funny thing about looking at your family tree is that you so often find half the family hanging in it, and the other half living under it.”
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