Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Paternal History

Upon moving my dad this past weekend, we found a very old picture of my grandfather when he was a child. I have never met him. He passed away before I was born. I only have one picture of him as an adult. So of course I took a picture of the picture. So I'd like to make this blog about his life.

His name is Neil. He was born in approximately 1910 to 1915 in Spain. His was born a Sephardic Jew. When he was a young kid his family fled to Jamaica to avoid persecution of being Jewish.

My great grandfather was 1 out of 4 siblings. 2 fled to Jamaica with their families. 1 fled to Costa Rica with his family. And I think the 4th fled to Canada. We really are not too sure about the 4th.

My grandfather grew up in Jamaica and lived there his entire life. It wasn't an easy one. There weren't too many Jewish Jamaicans. When my grandfather came of age, he fell in love with my grandmother, Cynthia. My great grandfather did not approve of their relationship because Cynthia was a Black woman. He forbade my grandfather to see her and sent him to Costa Rica to stay with family.

Some years passed and my grandfather returned to Jamaica. He still loved my grandmother. So against his father's wishes he married her. However, my grandpa returned to Jamaica with a very bad habit. He was a drinker. As his life moved further away from his family his drinking worsened a little. During his marriage to my grandma, he bore 3 children, my Father, my Aunt F and a brother who died. My grandma died in approximately 1952 to 1954 at the age of approximately 40 to 43.

At her death my grandpa's drinking worsened some more. He was still charming even though he was drunk most of the time. He had 2 more children with 2 other women; my Aunts D and B. He was not able to care for his children in his state so he abandoned them with a friend. My father, the eldest of the 4, took care of his siblings and worked his but off to provide for him and his sisters. The friend of my grandfather took good care of my dad and aunts as she possibly could. They had shelter and some food. Everything else my father had to work for.

In the 60s, when my dad was in the high school age group, he was able to get a visa to the US. He left his sisters and father behind. His relationship with my grandpa was uneasy. He knew his father was a drunk and he still loved him. Eventually my dad became a citizen of the US and sent for his sisters. All of them became US citizens. My grandpa did come visit on occasion.

My dad ended up marrying my mother in her early 20s. My grandpa of course, like his own father, did not approve of the marriage. However, he had no say or authority to force my dad since he long ago gave up his parental rights.

The year before I was born, my grandfather died of liver failure due to his heavy and lifetime abuse of alcohol. He was approximately 60 to 65 years of age.

When my grandfather pulled away from his family, my father and aunts lost all information on finding other family members. If they did know of some they didn't want any part of my grandfather's drama and that included his children. So we don't have much information about our extended family. Upon my grandfather's death, the family raided his belongings. None of his children got anything. Only thing my father got were couple of pictures.

At my father's request I am not going to post any of my grandpa's pictures. He doesn't trust the Internet with personal stuff. But I must say my grandpa as a kid was cute as hell.

I am glad that I learned some of my history. I would love to find out more about the rest of my family. I have met 2 relatives from the other sibling. One had lived with us for a while; we called him Uncle Ben even though he was a cousin. And another cousin, Sonya. I housesat for her when I lived in California. Both were great people.

I'm going to end my tale here.

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