Tales from Grandpa

I’ve been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately. He was quite the raconteur in his day, but he has been declining somewhat lately. I feel like I want to preserve some of my favorites of his stories.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I am supposedly related to Jesse James on my mother’s side. My grandfather’s mother’s maiden name was James. This was Grandpa’s main proof of the relationship when we got older, but his proof was slightly more colorful when we were younger and more gullible. He told us that Jesse James used to come by his house and his mother would give him a bag of cookies, which he would then sling over his saddle and ride off! Grandpa later admitted this wasn’t true, but he still insists we are related to Jesse James.

Weird (and some wonderful) factoids about my family

1. An inordinate number of people in my mom’s family go by their middle names. My mom, grandfather, younger brother, uncle, aunt, and two cousins, to be exact. In fact, my step-grandmother’s and late uncle’s chosen monikers aren’t part of their name at all. If my uncle, aunt, and cousin went by their proper names, they would be Rady, Alma, and Stephanie, rather than Tom, Jane, and Michele. If my step-grandmother and uncle went by their proper names, they would be Ila and Charles Michael, instead of Tiny and Ben. In fact, Ben was named for my great-uncle Ben, who was also named Charles Michael. No one knows why anymore.

2. My younger brother and two first cousins all have the same birthday (albeit in different years).

3. I am supposedly related to Jesse James on my mom’s side, as well as Brigham Young. In fact, Young is a family name on both sides. I don’t want to look too closely at that.

4. Five of my dad’s six sisters have a form of “Mary” as their first name. My paternal grandfather was a devout Catholic and, after one of my aunts died at the age of two weeks, he promised God that any other daughters he was blessed with would be named after Mary. He got six more.

5. An inordinate number of people in both of my families have the same name. My grandfather and uncle, my niece and first cousin once removed, my mom and my paternal grandmother, my first cousin and me, and soon, my son and another first cousin once removed. Oh, and my stepfather and my older brother. That’s the most confusing one.

6. My mom’s first and third husbands have the same name. Which is why my stepdad and older brother have the same name. My older brother was named after his biological dad. (Before you start thinking my mom gets married every time she turns around, she was married to my dad for over 20 years and has been married to my stepdad for almost 16 now.)

7. I have a niece who is 13 years younger and an aunt who is 13 years older than me. In fact, the age difference between my youngest aunt and my older brother (oldest grandchild) on my dad’s side is 3 years.

8. My uncle’s first wife’s second husband was the son of Ross Barnett, former governor of Mississippi. My former aunt and her husband called the governor and his wife “Big Momma” and “Big Daddy.” To quote Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up.

9. My stepdad, older brother, and I are all left-handed. (Well, I think my older brother is ambidextrous.) In fact, both of my stepsister’s parents are left-handed, but she is right-handed.

10. My stepsister is four days younger than me. We always refer to each other as “sister,” so you can imagine the confusion we caused when we told people that. So much fun.

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