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Taking Stock

April 7, 2024

I have a friend Bill whom I helped get a job. I met Bill through his wife Missy on an old BBS (Bulletin Board System) where we would sometimes chat. Eventually, we met in real life, Bill, Missy, me, and my wife. We all remained friends, never close, but socially meeting here and there at parties.

Before meeting Bill, Missy asked me about helping Bill get a job. I worked at Mellon Bank at the time as a programmer. Bill is one of the smartest people I have ever met, technically, and so I helped arrange an interview. Bill messed up the interview, showing up appearing like a Weatherman radical. However, he made a good impression otherwise and was invited back a 2nd day when he dressed and appeared like a serious candidate. Bill got the job and actually lasted with the company even after my job there ended. He is still there. Bill also had some part in later hiring my adults. He had known them since they were kids coming to the parties (mentioned above) with us.

At one of the hirings of one of my adults, Bill commented on how my adults fared in their jobs compared to some others hired around the same time. He said “They came from ‘good stock’. It was a curious comment. I understood what he meant and I appreciated the thought. It did have a wispy connection to livestock, but again, I understood the thought and appreciated what he said. It makes me contemplate bloodlines and the weathering effect time has on them. I believe I come from good stock also. We’re not all superstars but there are some stellar people in my family line. I have written in the past about Carole and Dale. Carole is my first cousin once removed.

Carole and Dale have been married for 64 years. They are friends (Carole and Dale). They are the kind of people who make you feel better after a visit. They are nice people. If I did not know them, I would not believe people could be that nice. Sometimes I imagine them having an argument:

Carole: I was wrong Dale.
Dale: No, Carole, it was me. I was wrong.
Carole: No, Dale. It was all my fault.

My wife is from good stock also. Linda and Dave are in her line. Linda is her aunt. They have been married for 57 years. I can say the same things about them. Well, I have never imagined them having an argument. I’m not sure it would go the same way as what I imagine of Carole and Dale but I can’t imagine it getting too much worse. Good stock.

Generations coming. Generations going. Always too late. Always too soon. Generations coming missing/losing generations going. Times coming when stories will be lost because no one is available to tell them. Questions wither because no one is around anymore to answer them. Carole and I are the last two people from my dad’s side of the family of our generation. It is sobering to contemplate that.

All of us are links between the following generations and the current/previous generations. Those links are moving forward and dropping out of reach. Out of sight. To be held in hearts but lost in physical presence faded in memories. Dusty photographs conjure memories for some, stories for some, and certainly questions for all. Questions whose answers may be lost to the ages.

I do think more these days about Carole and me. Last links. There are questions that will never be answered when we are gone. Even worse, perhaps, there are questions that will never be asked. Questions that we can’t even anticipate. It should be something everyone thinks about. Prepares for. Taking stock.

Taking stock, according to Merriam-Webster online, means:

to carefully think about something in order to make a decision about what to do next

I have had the weighty experience in the last decade of watching quite a few of my forbears pass off the scene. I have inherited many pictures and reminders. An even greater number of questions will remain mysteries because there is no longer anyone to answer them. It is too late for me and my history. There is time for me and Carole, but as we all know, it is moving quickly. Too quickly. I think more about taking stock. Impressing on my adults and their children that now is the time to ask the questions. To learn the stories. The histories. The histories are made. They are shared even if they are never revealed/discovered. Losing history is a tragedy. One that we can start to fix if we take stock.

‘Jake’ (Mary Alice) Knauff of the Forest County Historical Society, pointed me to a wonderful service to help people to take stock. To preserve history. The service is called StoryWorth and provides a mechanism where loved ones can ask questions of interest and get them to those who can answer them. Who will answer them. A physical book is compiled each year and sent to those interested. There is a cost for this service but the service seems to me to be quite priceless. Permanent etchings in family archives.

If history falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If no one ever hears it, does any sound it might make even matter? It certainly makes no difference if it is not heard. StoryWorth seems to be a way for families to add depth and breadth to history that pictures by themselves usually cannot. It can add heart, breath, and texture to history. It is a clever way for a whole family to flesh out their portfolio. To take stock.

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