Monday, September 11, 2017

The Life of Ed

In the interest of posting more regularly, I have about 30 saved drafts, some years old, that I am sifting through. For the ones that are slightly still relevant, I will post them despite not being current. This is one of them.

I've been picking through various papers, photos, and scrapbooks that my family has saved over the years, including all these wonderful images and clippings from my ancestors. However it's the computer files that are the most sobering, and not surprisingly, emotional, for me to review. I am tentative about opening files on my dad's computer, feeling a little bit like I'm snooping and not quite sure I want to read everything, since, after all – they are personal!

But what does one do when someone dies and leaves an extensive library of work, either electronically or print?

Collectively, my brothers and I are all reviewing the contents of my parent's house, including papers saved in various places in the house. I copied the contents of their computer after my dad died, pulling all his genealogy and whaling research files, letters to the editors, his lists, and his memoirs. I know some families where they throw everything in the trash, rather than take the time, or effort, to review all that is there. I could never do that. I want to least see what they have been keeping all these years, hoping to find a little more insight into their lives and what as people, not parents, they felt was important at the time. Looking through the computer files goes a step further; I'm learning more about my parent's daily interactions with people through the various organizations with which they were involved. They are numerous.

Did I mention that my father LOVED sailing and that my mother was TERRIFIED of water? I didn't know this until I was much older and I'm glad I never realized it when we were little. In a Christmas letter to his friends one year my dad referred to my mother as Chicken-of-the-Sea. Nice, huh?

We would spend three weeks every summer on a 35 foot sailboat; it was much like camping, only on water.  Whether we were living on the coast in Connecticut or in land-locked Ohio, we always had the Willy Wispe to sail the oceans and lakes. Thinking back, knowing how much my mom hated sailing, I'm sure she was quite relieved when we stopped sailing in the Atlantic. I'll share some sailing stories with you in future posts, including our "Children's Logs".

Among the documents my father had on his computer, I found this poem tucked into a folder with his whaling research. I somehow think it must've hit home for him when he read it. Maybe that's why he saved it. 

Being in a ship
is being in a jail,
with the chance of being drowned

                 Dr. Samuel Johnson
                            March 1759

From James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1791


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