William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

Aunt Georgie

My grandfather's sister passed away on Sunday at the age of 94. We'll call her my Grand Aunt, though few people use the term. She was the last of the family - even the spouses; the only one remaining is my own grandmother. As sister-in-law she got a nametag and everything - it was cute.

One thing that surprised me (and my father, too) was to learn from an excerpt read from Aunt Georgie's memoirs that her mother - i.e. my great-grandmother who married my great-grandfather Matheson - was a Gaelic speaker! Georgie mentions hearing her speak Gaelic while reminiscing with friends and family in the house.

My great-grandparents Matheson died relatively young, and the result was that my father's generation knew their maternal grandparents Neil & Lottie (the Ross side), but not their paternal grandparents (the Matheson side). We've been clannish enough (heck, we had the Chief at our farm for a major reunion once upon a time), but the presence of parents / grandparents makes a huge difference in how much people get together to see each other, and all my life the Ross connections kind of overpowered everything else. Not that it's a competition or anything. It's just... interesting.

This has been a journey of discovery for me. Now that I'm nominally adult, I listen at times when as a child I did not. I mean, I didn't even know where Grandpa (and Aunt Georgie, of course) grew up until Aunt Shirley and Aunt Donna were talking about it in the car. It was in a house that you could actually see from where Grandma and Grandpa lived when I was a kid, and I'd visited that house many times as Grandma was close friends with those neighbours, but if the fact that Grandpa grew up there was ever mentioned, it escaped my retention.

Aunt Georgie did her family a service by recording her memoirs and thereby retaining things, like the fact that one of my great-grandparents spoke Gaelic (though I'm sure others did, especially on my Mom's side in Cape Breton), that would otherwise have been forgotten. They're also fascinating from a general interest standpoint, especially her anecdotes about teaching in PEI one-room schools. If I get my hands on a copy, I'll see if I can type them up and perhaps quote from them in this space. (Of course, there are privacy issues to consider about these sorts of things. It may not happen at all, but we'll see.)

* * *

Also, there were no Hindenburg-esque faux pas today. ;-)
Tags: family, gaelic, languages, memoirs, memorials, relatives

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