Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 67 & 68 and death becomes her.

I had an amazing, fabulous, fantastic run yesterday.  Eight miles before work, a really good pace that reflects the fact that except for two quick breaks (call of nature -- eight miles will shake things loose -- and then some Gu) I ran the whole thing.  The new shoes are so great.  I wore my retired shoes Wednesday evening to take the pups for a walk and the soles felt so flat and thin in comparison.

Since I had such a great run yesterday, of course I skipped my run this morning.  It was another night of poor sleep and bizarre dreams, and when I woke up for the gym I had a mild sore throat and a feeling like something was sitting on my chest.  Unfortunately, nothing was sitting on my chest; if it had been, I would have just knocked it off, duh.  Instead I have a bit of gurgling and wheezing when I take deep breaths, and now the bronchial spasms have started when I breathe regularly.  I'm guessing the sore throat is from post-nasal drip.  I hate allergy season.  Perhaps soon I will be hacking up a lung.

Much like my paternal great-grandfather, Felix.  (What a segue, eh?)   I can be kind of morbid sometimes.  Or at least that's some people tell me.  I prefer to think that I just am okay with the whole death thing.  Not that I want to experience it any time soon, but we all die, circle of life, yadda yadda yadda.  Anyhow -- and bear with me, this will connect -- every once in a while I hop on Google and try to find out something about old Felix.  He was Finnish.  He was also named in my great-grandmother Julia's divorce.  I love that.  It explains that side of my family so succinctly. 

I've seen some pictures of Julia, probably in her 40s or early 50s at that time, and while she's attractive she wasn't exactly a hot tamale.  She has some pretty spectacular boobies though (I take after that side of the family all around), and maybe Felix was a breast man.  She had the kind of figure where she probably wished she'd been born in the Gibson girl rather than the flapper era.  About the divorce, Julia was first married to another Finn named Fritz, with whom she had three or four kids.  The family story is that Fritz and Felix were cousins, and then Julia divorced Fritz and married Felix and went on to have three or four more kids.  Consequently, Julia's children were not only half-siblings but something like second cousins as well.

The fun part here is that one of the Fritz/Julia kids, Ernie, and one of the Felix/Julia kids, Roy, married sisters -- my aunt Shirley and my grandmother.  Yes, the family tree does not branch here so much as bulge.  They all didn't live too far apart in Seattle, and my dad tells me that he remembers going over to play with his cousins and old Fritz would be there, sitting silent in a corner and glaring at the Felix/Julia grandkids.  Heh.

Getting back to the main part of the story, Felix is somewhat of a mystery beyond what I've just related above.  At least as far as anyone in the family will tell me, and since we're Finnish everyone stopped talking to everyone else years ago due to some grudge or another.  So I try to find more about Felix other than he slept with his cousin's wife.  All I've been able to find is a recitation of a death certificate that I believe to be his.  It says he died of "massive hemoptysis," which apparently involves some sort of lung disease.  Perhaps I also inherited Felix's respiratory system, I have no idea. 

More to the point, I like to browse the website on which I found this listing.  Because I am morbid and a little bored.  It's also very interesting, though.  This particular link goes to death certificates of Finns in King County, Washington, but on the main page there are lots of other sites listing dead people.  I like to see the patterns in the deaths (like deaths in childbirth) or read between the lines in the causes of death.  Or when there is a quote by the doctor saying we really don't know. 

For example, a 17 year old girl who died of "menstrual hemorrhage" in 1907.  It says she's a single student, but did she miscarry?  Botched abortion?  Who knows.  There is the two week old baby whose cause of death is acute indigestion; "mother was ill and milk did not agree with child."  Another baby was ten months old with acute indigestion.  I wonder if these were food allergies?   One woman died from "purpural peritonitis, willful neglect to call medical aid."  "Purpural", which is misspelled, relates to childbirth.  She was married; who willfully neglected to call the doctor?   If you look through the years, the Kangas children did not have good luck; many died shortly after birth or while still in childhood.  Another baby (not a Kangas) died from "hemorrhage of navel."  Yikes.

A lot of Finns worked in the mines, so there are several accidental deaths from explosions, being crushed by landslides.  One entry attributes death to the Lawson Mine explosion, like we'll all know what that means forever.  And apparently we will; a quick search shows that this was the second Lawson Mine to explode.  The first was in 1902 and killed 11 men; the second was this one in 1910 and killed 16 people.  Many were crushed by railway cars or hit by automobiles, even in 1908 or so.   Two guys were crushed by the Milwaukee train on the same day. 

Lots of suicides too; we Finns are not cheery people.  One guy cut his own throat with a razor.  Or did he?   One man stabbed himself in the heart.  Or did he?  One guy fell from the third floor of an apartment building; it doesn't say suicide, nor does it say if it was his own apartment building.  A young maid was murdered when someone slit her throat.  Or did they?

And then there are ones that just don't make sense, or maybe make too much sense.  How about "traumatic meningitis due to premature death?"  Huh?  "Senile gangrene"?  Oops, didn't notice my leg had fallen off there.   Here's one I don't like:  a young married woman who died from septicemia with a bruised breast after running into a door.  Really?   I'd be looking at the husband for that.   Here's another one, about a young boy not quite a year old:  "child was dead when I reached house, but from description and condition of twin brother, am confident it died of ptomain due perhaps to fermentation of milk; although vomiting and diarrhea, mother still persisted in making it drink milk."  Poor little guy.  A two year old girl died from "traumatic meningitis; accidentally fell off porch."  Uh huh.

I do like the one with the man who died from "homicide by fire arms, unjustifiable."  It goes on to state his occupation as "Gambler."   Another guy died from "delerium tremens (2 weeks debauch)."  Must have been a hell of a party. 

There's a ton more, take a look for yourself.  It's easy to get hooked on imagining these people's lives.  Go ahead, I dare you!  And let me know if you run across Felix; I can't believe he just fell out of the sky.  Although maybe he did.  Or did he?

the CilleyGirl

1 comment:

  1. You captured the Finnish temperment so well. I am half-Finn but I am luckily tempered with Irish and German to counteract some of the moroseness. My memories of visiting the Finnish side of the family are sitting around in uncomfortable silence for a few hours every Christmas Eve. Nobody would say anything and my own grandmother seemed uncomfortable having family at her home. My mother's favorite story of them is that the room was full of my Dad's relatives (the Finns) and it was so quiet you could hear yourself swallow. Strange people.

    My Finn's came to King County during the war so no deaths on that list of anyone I can trace to being a direct relative.

    Looking at the death list is kind of like going through old cemetaries and reading the tombstones and imagining the lives of the people there. I love old cemetaries for that very reason. It sparks the imagination and helps keep those folks alive in some way.