So, remember when I wrote about those mysterious five siblings my grandfather had?
(No? Read this first.)
A week and a half ago – thanks to the Mormons – I’ve finally figured it out.
Originally, I’d said that perhaps they’d died as babies or young kids, of illness or unfortunate accidents.
According to the records, here’s the truth (or, the version I’m accepting):
One child, born 1910 – just over a year after my great-aunt Ellen – died before the end of that year, aged eight months. The official reason of death written on the certificate is “teething”. But the infant girl may very well have had some sort of viral infection or fever and, as it happened, was teething at the time.
Two sisters managed to make it out of childhood unscathed. But their lives wouldn’t be long ones, either.
One sister (born 1917) died while she was still a teenager (my best guess is that she was 17), of “cold and fever”. Her 23-year-old sister signed her death certificate.
And in a cruel twist of fate, said older sister (born 1912) died the following year of the aforementioned “cold and fever”, five days after her 24th birthday. My great-aunt Milda was the one who signed her certificate.
One of the youngest siblings (born 1919) was sickly and barely lived 20 days. (Poor little soul.)
One of the brothers (born 1907) had the best outcome, by far. He died 40 years ago this month, on the family property. Congestive heart failure was the cause. According to the death certificate, he was in his late 60s. I think the age listed is two years off, if his birth certificate is correct. Again, Milda was the one to sign the document.
But just like one of those sliding block puzzles, just when I think I’ve filled the gap, another one presents itself. Or, in this case, two.
My grandfather’s second-oldest brother was nicknamed “Baboo”. But – as in a lot of families – he was never addressed or referred to by his real name. So when I found the pile of birth certificates, I’d attributed his identity to a child born in May, 1911.
After a recent conversation with my mother to confirm my hunch, it turns out that “Baboo” is likely the great-uncle who died in 1974. And I’ve yet to find a death certificate for the son born in 1911.
So now, I’m back to two names that are unaccounted for – the mystery brother, and the sister called “Hilda May” (whom I’m somehow still convinced might be Milda).
Of course, this is a normal part of the process. But I was suddenly on a roll, and I’d gotten cocky. Never get cocky with history – especially when it’s got the fog of time working in its favour.
And as long as you remember that, every so often it’ll continue to throw you bones, as it sees fit.