Weekly Column

  

Another fantasy shattered;

maybe, I'm not perfect

by William Gibson White

8/17/17

 

            From our first meeting, I told Cupcake, "Have no doubt, I'm just perfect!"

            Well, right off I proved it. I worked nights, and she worked days. We bought wallpaper to be hung, so one day while she was at work, I hung it. Proud of my workmanship, I said, "another perfect job by your perfect husband." She looked at it, shook her head and broke into uncontrollable laughter.

            "What?" I said.

            "Good job but you hung it upside down."

            "Grapes hang down," I said now really looking at the flowered wallpaper. "Oh! We chose grapes. What happened?"

            "I changed our minds."

            Not the last stupid thing I've done during our 40 years of marriage, but I still admit I'm perfect. She's been determined to prove otherwise.

            So, recently, she had my DNA analyzed.

 

* * *

            Since birth, I've been told how great my mother's father was, to a point where I thought Mama had an Oedipus complex. I think she admired my Grandpa Mills more   than any male she ever knew.

            He was born April 29, 1856, near the coal-producing region of Durham County in Northern England in a town called Bishop Aukland. After his father was killed by a falling rock in a mineshaft, Gibson Mills decided against working in the coal mines. Instead, an uncle, who was a stonemason, took him on as an apprentice. He became an exceptional stonemason, learning to work with all types of stone from granite to marble.

            He married a young woman in town named Elizabeth Taylor. After Grandpa became a master stonemason, he left his wife behind and emigrated to the U.S. He spent three months in Washington, D.C. studying the stone work there in the buildings and monuments. He heard about the construction of an Army and Navy Hospital at Hot Springs, Ark., and that the area might become a national park. So his family moved there in the late 1880s and bought forty acres south of the city. Some of his first works in Hot Springs were the stone walls near the Army and Navy Hospital (now the Rehabilitation Center) and he laid the stone for the Williams House at 420 Quapaw, which is now on the Historic Register.

            According to Mama, Gibson Mills built the stone formal entrance to the U.S. Hot Springs Reservation on Bath House Row where the eagles sit atop two monuments, about the time his wife became ill. Elizabeth died of tuberculosis the day after Christmas, 1896.

            In 1900, he married 30-year old Margaret Herron—my Grandma Mills— a widow with a young daughter. That union produced one son, and two daughters, one of whom was Ruby, my mother. Soon after his second marriage, and while building a larger house (quarrying the stone from the hill on which it was built), he went into the stone and marble business.

           

 

* * *

            Well, compared to daddy—William Dewey White— a sawmill worker with not much work and our struggle to survive during the depression, Grandpa Mills was great!

            Yet I didn't know much about my Grandpa White. Seems my Grandma White didn't want us to know about Daddy's side of the family. She did say he worked for a railroad and was killed while switching trains in Louisiana. That's all we knew.

            So in my mind, I created my own paternal genealogy. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and got us into World War II, I began to fantasize: Why not make Grandpa White's grandparents British convicts sent to an Australia penal colony where their kids settled the country?

            Besides, Australians were good to us U.S. Marines during WW II.

            Well, the DNA results didn't verify that fantasy about my father's ancestors. The mystery still exists.

            My Ancestry Composition was 95.9% Northwestern European broken down into British & Irish, French & German, Scandinavian and Finnish. Some Southern European: -1% Ashkenazi Jewish and -1% Sub-Saharan African.

            But even my DNA mixture doesn't prove for sure, that I'm not perfect.

            Cupcake laughs. "Yeah, right, wallpaper hanger! With an ancestry like that no one could be perfect! "        

 

 

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