January 25th, 2009

Revisionist History

When I visited my mother a few weeks before she died, her husband Bully, my stepfather, turned over to me a pile of old photos that had been in a box in the attic for years. He said he guessed they were “Your mom’s people.”

Since she was in a terminal stage of dementia and recognized no one and could not speak, I couldn’t ask her who they were, what were their names, what was their history.

She’d told me earlier that a great-great-grandfather (she wasn’t sure how many greats) named Jack Joyce was convicted of sheep stealing in Ireland during the Great Famine, and transported to a penal colony in Australia. After serving his sentence he married, and had children, a few of whom migrated to America to work on the railroad.

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