Friday, August 21, 2009

Uncle Frank & the Longetivity Gene

The daddum's family, the Donegan-Spence family more properly, have the longetivity gene. Problem is, their bodies almost always outlast their mental capacities. The Donegans (and later Spences, after my great-grandfather died and left a youngish widow, who remarried the nicest man ever, who treated all of her many kids like his own, whether they were or not genetically) all lived into their nineties and were EXTREMELY ACTIVE ninety year olds (square dancers, church goers--Baptist of course--they were southerners after all). Ironically, almost all of the Donegan/Spences smoked like chimneys and drank black coffee at all hours of the day.

They were all good-looking, with beautiful eyes and small frames. They hailed from Meridian, Mississippi, where at one time, SB's family (shamefully) owned slaves. The Donegans were quite wealthy until my great grandfather took ill with cancer and lost everything. I have a small dark wood stand that was rumoured to have come from the plantation, and that's all that's left of the old family homestead. Finito.

My (Great) Uncle Frank had astoundingly blue eyes and had worked for the railroad in his younger and adult days. At the family reunions, he would start into stories about hauling water while they were building the railroads when he was a young man. Uncle Frank was adorable, and his eyes were so amazingly blue, I couldn't look away. I didn't mind hearing the water-carrying story over and over, even though his son tried to put the kibosh on it, "Dad, she's already heard that story."

There was a funny story that when Uncle Frank and his sister, Aunt Luna, were in the same nursing home, the aides sat them together for lunch everyday, and the conversation went pretty much like this:

Frank: Who are you?
Luna: Why, who are you?

Everyday the aides had to reintroduce the brother and sister to each other. It's a pretty good damn thing that the two were too old to be interested in dating.

One day, when Uncle Frank was in his 90s (and not yet in the damn old folks home), the Moms and daddums went over to Frank's house and found it open, with no sign of Frank at all. They walked all through the house calling, and then out back of the house--"Frank? Frank?"

My 90-year-old great uncle answered them from the roof of his small, tidy home, where he was cleaning the gutters.

I am amazed by the genes I carry. I marvel and am continually astounded by the blood that runs through my veins. I would have belonged to no other family than the one I have. I won the damn lottery.

I am almost certain my fate will be the same as that of my familial elders. SB will live until her mental faculties are all shot to hell, but my body will keep on ticking, until some major illness wipes it out. It was almost always final and swift cancer or emphysema or pneumonia that the elders succumbed to. As a kid, the hospital almost always meant a fatality. The Donegan-Spences went in, but they usually didn't come out. That may be why I am fairly hospital phobic. I've never been in the hospital since my birth, and I'm 43 years old now, so I think that's a pretty good record to have.

I am expecting the same fate as my forebears, and I will be proud to follow, whatever comes. I feel fortunate to carry the genes.


Gledwood said...

I hope you start feeling better soon.

I don't know which is worse, the body outlasting the mind, or the mind going while the body's still full of strength.

Hey at least we don't get a choice in these matters ... (I suppose)

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks, Gleddy. You know SB loves you. I hope you feel better soon, too.

I'll be thinking of you.


Ms. Moon said...

And I feel fortunate to read your words. You are a very good writer.
I hope by the time you get to your nineties they have figured out the losing-your-mind thing. In fact, I hope they figure it out really soon because my mind is going and my body is fine. I need the help.
Anyway, love you, Ms. B.

Ms. Moon said...

P.S. Have you ever read "Handling Sin" by Michael Malone? Your story reminded me of that book and I do really think you would like it.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

My Dear Ms. Moon,
If they don't figure it out, I'm just going to roll with that shit. There are ways you could have fun with losing you gourd--for instance, you could bore the shit out of people by telling them over and OVER your own favorite stories. You could also tell dull visitors that Clark Gable is waiting on you for a dinner engagement when you want to get rid of them. Think about it.

I adore you. Your mind is quite fine and will remain so. I'm convinced. We don't lose what's essential about ourselves I don't think.


Sarcastic Bastard said...

No ma'am. Handling Sin is now on my reading list upon your recommendation. Thanks!

Enjoy your evening.

Love, SB.

gingermagnolia said...

This was lovely.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thank you for the kind compliment. It means a lot coming from you.

Sending love,