Family trees come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The history of a clan can be an interesting and unique slice of the stuff we are made of. I don’t often speak of it, but my family tree is stranger than most.
I guess I should start at the beginning; Ireland circa 1400.
My ancient ancestors were poor folk that lived a harsh life of meager existence. As luck would have it, Aeden O’Barrain, my multi- multi-great grandfather on the Barrs side, caught himself a leprechaun when he was 83. True enough to be sure; we still have the wee coat and pipe in our ancestral home.
As all Leprechauns are want to do, the old codger offered to grant three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Aden thought this might well be a good thing.
It was a bit of hard work getting the old Leprechaun and the octogenarian to understand one another. It seems both were almost stone deaf. For his first wish my kin shouted that he wanted his family to never be hungry.
“What’s that ye say?” yelled the imp.
“I said my family is to never be HUNGRY.”
Then Aeden thought for a while and yelled, “We are always to have GOOD LUCK on our side” The Leprechaun nodded in agreement. Lastly Aeden said, “And I want my family to multiply and spread into a huge family tree.”
“A what?! A what!” squeaked the man in green.
“TREE! I want it to be a BIG FAMILY TREEE!”
By the time the Leprechaun got done my family was never in a HURRY, had good LOOKS on our side and a family curse firmly in place.
Yup, that deaf old gnome turned Aeden into a tree. He was transformed into a big FAMILIAR tree; an Elder no less.
Ever since that fateful day, people in our clan tend to…well, morph into actual trees when they get older. Instead of passing over, they, um….sprout. Welcome to my family of trees.
Let me introduce you to a few of the more unique members of the clan.
My Grandmother, Magnolia, was a true Southern Belle. She was the Matriarch of the family. She spread her influence far and wide over every branch. Always a beauty, she blossomed into prominence as a debutante in 1925. She finally took to root in 1990.
Gran’s Brother, Uncle Palmer, was always a standout in the crowd. He was very tall and thin with a massive bush of hair sprouting out of his head. No matter what, the family couldn’t tame his wild ways. He married a short, Cuban woman and they had a son known as Little lefty (one leg was shorter than the other) who was a carbon copy of his Papa.
Aunt Flora could be a rather unassuming woman. She didn’t like winter, but was always the first to burst outdoors in the spring. She would be in all her glory long before the cold winds of winter subsided. She loved to make her own Easter bonnets for church. Her flashy displays always announced warm weather ahead.
Twins like Jack and John run in our family. They hailed from the deserts of Arizona. Rather dry and standoffish as young men, they never married but ran the family ranch until they wandered off into the sunset in their 90s. They were from hardy stock and required little to make them happy.
Sisters known in the family as “Those twins” came from the Green family branch. Fern and Fran were real lookers. They always were in proper form no matter where they went. They enjoyed it when people couldn’t tell them apart. They lived next door to each other for more than half their lives.
Sister Holly took her vows in the early 1800s. We’re not sure how she came to be so devout or Catholic. Ever stalwart and never changing, Sister Holly was steadfast in piety and perseverance. Solidly built and meaning business, no one would dare brush up against her wishes. Still, she was rather appealing when admired from a distance.
Old cousin Clem was rather a stodgy cuss. His family said he was very stand offish and his personality was all prickers and prunes. He had a soft heart, if you could ever get close enough to realize it. Osteoporosis never slowed him down. Even bent almost in half, he could still give his kids what for. He passed unexpectedly when visiting our family ranch run by Jack and John.
Mad Jack Loblolly was a rather infamous character in the family. Known as a drinker and carouser, his motto was “Never quit till there’s nothin’ left to give”. He certainly lived his life that way. Jack said more than once that when he crossed over he wanted to leave nothing behind but an empty shell. Amazingly enough, he’s is still standing (somewhat) in my cousin’s back yard.
Having such a unique family can come in handy at times. Check out this performance of Heatwave. I was a hit at the family reunion. My four foot head dress is made entirely from gathering bits of my family’s trees and working them into a four foot masterpiece.