Over on Facebook, people are asking questions like,
What’s the most interesting thing that happened to you in 2017?
What do you think will be your best memory of 2017?
What do you think will be your worst memory of 2017?
I haven’t answered any of those questions but the first question led me to reflect on the most interesting thing I discovered in 2017.
In April 2017, I got interested in genealogy. Since I’ve been estranged from both sides of my family for 24 years, I sometimes wonder what happened to cousins, nieces & nephews, aunts & uncles, even brothers & sisters.
I got really ambitious last year and took out a membership at Ancestry based on a long-time friend’s genealogy posts on Facebook. It was interesting because Ancestry looks at the names of people you enter and then searches its database to find matches and links to others who have entered the same names.
It was through those links that I was able to find several documents relating to my father. The first was an application for a headstone:
The application was made by my wise old grandmother, Mary Agnes Kirk. I learned from that document that my father served in the Air Force from December 18, 1950, to December 17, 1954, as a member of the 728th Squadron, Aircraft Control & Warning, and was discharged as a Staff Sergeant. All interesting but it’s the service dates that I think are critical here, being discharged on December 17, 1954. I tried to find more information about the 728th Squadron because I wanted to see if I could find someone who knew my dad. No luck. So I have to make presumptions, and those could be completely wrong.
The next document I found was my dad’s death certificate which told me that he killed himself on January 18, 1961. I never knew until last year that he had killed himself. I was led to believe that he had died in the Korean War. Hmmm.
A few email messages to survivors who would know about this indicated that my father killed himself due to my mother’s indiscretions. Here’s where it gets interesting. Apparently my father was in the Air Force in Korea. That’s important to know because I was born on March 11, 1955. Nine months earlier would have been June 11, 1954. At that time, from what I can determine, my father was in Korea. Hmmm.
There is a possibility that my father was home on leave but that does not seem to be the case. That’s why I wanted to see if I could find someone from the 728th Squadron who was still living and might have relevant records of that kind of stuff.
According to others who might know, my parents fought often. I’m thinking that whether or not he was home on leave, sometime in January 1961, perhaps during a fight, my mother blurted out something like, “Russel’s not even your son! He’s the milkman’s son!”
So, am I my father’s son? Interesting question.
That’s the most interesting thing that happened to me in 2017.
However, related to this and also found during my genealogical research are these juicy tidbits:
- I had always been told that my mother had been born in Helena, Montana. Even my mother told me that. Nope. She was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Why the lies?
- I had always been told that my oldest brother lived for 13 months. Nope. He lived just over four weeks. Apparently he drowned on his baby bottle in the middle of the night. Sources say that he was crying and that my mother got up and gave him a bottle, and then went back to bed. Why the lies?
- I had always been told that my youngest brother died at birth. Nope. He died on the same day he was born but lived long enough to be given a name. I always knew him as “Baby Boy Kirk.” Even his gravestone, which I helped pay for, says “Baby Boy Kirk” on it. His name actually was Randy Kirk according to everything I have found, including the 2012 obituary for my mother. Why the lies?
Was my family the progenitors of the Republican liars of today? The fake news purveyors of today? The alternative facts of today? Inquiring minds want to know.