Happy Birthday, Cousin!

George_H._W._Bush,_President_of_the_United_States,_1989_official_portraitYesterday was the birthday of former president George Herbert Walker Bush.
And now I feel confident in saying, “Happy Birthday, Cousin!”

Coincidentally, the day before the former president’s birthday, a cousin posted the following to Facebook:

I wish I could call my cousin Mike Smith today to tell him what I learned via Internet last night. He would have been delighted to know that we are cousins (distant cousins) of two presidents – Bush I and Bush II. I don’t want any of my cousins dissing this relationship. We have a very diverse extended family, even among more closely related cousins, and I prize that diversity. It says something about the American experience. I love all my cousins for who they are, even when we disagree about politics, religion, or even the weather. And I hear that cousin Jeb is about to formally announce he is a candidate for President.

I’m including her post because I appreciate her preemptive admonition to all of us not to diss this relationship. :) Many of us are passionate about our politics, but we are not always of the same mind!

She asked me to figure out our relationship status to the presidents Bush. I already had our common ancestor in my tree and it was pretty easy to follow the genealogy report she found online and match it up with ours. I looked for a couple of other sources, and felt pretty confident. After all, genealogies of really important folks have usually been well vetted and documented. And, because our common ancestor is also well researched, it was just a matter of inputting the line that leads to the Bush family.

book cover Cornelis MelynHer request also prompted me to get out a book I have been meaning to read about our common ancestor – Cornelis Melyn. I read the genealogies of our two lines as reported in the back of the book and made comparisons to the genealogies found online, my research, and that of others in our family.

Now I’m reading the juicier stuff at the beginning of the book, where there is more information to flesh out a bit of the life of Cornelis and his family. Maybe I’ll follow up in the next few days with some bullet points of interest to my family members.

So how are we related? Ancestry.com calculates that George H. W. Bush is my 10th cousin 1x removed. George W. Bush and his siblings are my 11th cousins.

Here’s how my common linage traces to George W. Bush. Our lines meet in the middle of this list, Cornelis Melyn being our common ancestor. Sisters Cornelia (Bush line) and Mariken (my line) are our progenitors.

11. George Walker Bush – is your 11th cousin
10. George Herbert Walker Bush (10th cousin 1x removed)
father of George Walker Bush
9. Prescott Sheldon Bush – father of George Herbert Walker Bush
8. Flora Sheldon – mother of Prescott Sheldon Bush
7. Mary Elizabeth Butler – mother of Flora Sheldon
6. Courtland Philip Livingston Butler – father of Mary Elizabeth Butler
5. Judith Livingston – mother of Courtland Philip Livingston Butler
4. Gilbert James Livingston – father of Judith Livingston
3. James Livingston – father of Gilbert James Livingston
2. Cornelia Beekman (1693 – 1742) – mother of James Livingston
1. Joanna “Janneken” Loper (1650 – 1743) – mother of Cornelia Beekman
Cornelia Melyn (1628 – ) – mother of Joanna “Janneken” Loper
Cornelis Melyn (1600 – 1674) – father of Cornelia Melyn
Mariken “Maria” Melyn (1637 – 1694) – daughter of Cornelis Melyn
1. Cornelius Hatfield (1665 – 1718) – son of Mariken “Maria” Melyn
2. Rachel (or Mary) Hatfield (1703 – 1794) – daughter of Cornelius Hatfield
3. George Badgley (1726 – 1794) – son of Rachel (or Mary) Hatfield
4. John Badgley (1752 – 1793) – son of George Badgley
5. Hannah Badgley (1779 – ) – daughter of John Badgley
6. Samuel Force Embree (1806 – 1889) – son of Hannah Badgley
7. Charlotte Augusta Embree (1850 – 1924) – daughter of Samuel Force Embree
8. Myron David Webber (1874 – 1959) – son of Charlotte Augusta Embree
9. Abbie Elizabeth Webber (1900 – 1999) – daughter of Myron David Webber
10. My father – son of Abbie Elizabeth Webber
11. Me

I’ve never really understood how the whole removed cousins thing works, nor have I have I taken the time to try to understand it. Now I know that George W. and I are of the same generation – you can count them on the list above. His father is one generation removed from me.

Now I get it. Sort of.

I’ll still rely on my genealogy programs to figure it out for me, though. :)


Problems Commenting?

I heard from my uncle that he tried to leave a comment on my last post, but was asked to change his settings. He didn’t and his comment did not go through. If you have experienced a problem, please use the email abbieandeveline at gmail dot com to let me know.


Let’s Talk … and Listen

When I posted just a few brief words the other day, hoping that more posts would follow that action, Jacqi kindly commented that blogs are just a conversation and that my blog can be whatever I want it to be. Thanks, Jacqi.

If blogging is a conversation, it remains one-sided unless you read it and engage with it in some way. If you engage with my words, I think it does become a conversation, even if you don’t comment. If you leave a comment, there is some proof of our conversation. Feel free. :)

I had a conversation with myself in the shower this morning and thought I would share it with you. It was prompted by this photograph.

hockensmith familyMy sister posted it on Facebook yesterday as it was apparently National Siblings Day – a day none of us knew existed prior to the invention of Facebook. Her sharing the photo prompted some conversation among the siblings in the picture as well as a few of our friends and relatives. I’m the oldest kid and all of our names begin with K. Let’s just call us K1 (me), K2, K3, and K4. The picture was shared by K2, who is missing a few teeth. This prompted K3 (on the right)  to crop just the gap-toothed one, repost it as a comment, and LOL. K4 (the baby) laughed at our hair – three of us with basically the same “do” – a 60s flip. Several of K2’s friends commented on how much K2 looks like our mother. I added helpfully that if you hold your cursor over mother’s mouth, you can see the likeness even more clearly. Go ahead – try it! :)

This picture was taken when I was in high school in Corsicana, Texas, probably for a church directory. My other comments on the Facebook post were that our mom is so pretty and my sisters adorable. Also that I look a lot like our dad in this photo. This is funny, because he is my step-dad. I recalled that around that time, someone had commented to dad and me about how much I looked like him. We just smiled at each other and let it be our little secret.

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about these comments, about our beautiful, loving mom and my heroic dad. Mom’s brain has been taken over by Alzheimer’s dementia. The disease has taken most of her memories and has turned a loving, compassionate, fun and creative woman into someone who can be mean and fearful. Everyone knows it is the disease talking, but that doesn’t make it easier to experience. I’m sheltered from this because I live so far away and have been unable to travel during my long illness. Dad has been a hero to me since he loved me as his own flesh and blood the minute he married my mom – when I was 7 years old. And now he bears the burden of caring for mom during a long and difficult disease. His love for her compels him to protect her and keep her in familiar surroundings for as long as possible.

As I engaged myself further in conversation (and ran up the water bill), I thought about my frustration with residual changes in brain function that remain post cancer and how difficult it is to explain when it isn’t obvious to anyone but me. And how frustrating that is for me. And how I think mom tried to tell me something was wrong with her brain long before it was evident to anyone else. And how I did what people do to me. I said, “Oh, I do that too.”

I had a check up with my oncologist yesterday and I asked him if there was anyone out there (meaning in town) working with chemo brain. He called it the “proverbial chemo brain,” which started to piss me off even though I dearly love and respect him. He indicated (with his arm outstretched), that I was way “out there” – which I took to mean that I am a distinct minority of his patients who have brain complaints, especially a year after completing treatment. He surmised that we don’t know if it is the chemo that causes the problem or if it is the cancer itself, or if it is just the beating our body/brain takes as the result of a trauma, be it cancer, surgery, or something like he experienced last year – an aortic rupture. I guess that’s why he called chemo brain “proverbial.” I didn’t stay mad at him because he said he would do some checking and on the way out told his nurse that she should remind him about my chemo brain. There – he said it!

This all makes me sad that I didn’t listen when Mom made remarks about her memory years ago. I knew she was reading lots of books and articles about Alzheimer’s and what to do to try to prevent it. I knew that. And when we talked on the phone, she would say things like, “Boy, it seems like my memory isn’t what it used to be!” And if I asked what she meant and she gave an example, I would say, “Oh, I do that too! Last Sunday I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of the woman I sit behind in church every week.”

And if that conversation only happened once, or maybe twice, that response may have been ok. But it happened more than twice.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I believe that Mom was trying to tell me that her brain had changed and she was worried. I wish I had listened to the intent behind her words. I wish I had accepted her words as truth and validated her concerns. I understand now that my misguided attempt to reassure her instead belittled her reality. I wish I could take that back.