January 14, 2023
Cruickshank is an old Scottish name. My father was most parts Scottish, some parts English, and one-quarter German. My mother’s surname was Kenny, and her parents were poor Irish country folk who coincidentally emigrated from Galway about the same time at the turn of the twentieth century. They hadn’t met before getting processed through Ellis Island and lived independent lives in New York City for several years before being introduced. They ultimately courted, moved west, married, and ended up living on a hillside with a view of the ocean in Laguna Beach, California.
My grandmother was feisty; part of that was simply the way she was wired at birth, but some of it – perhaps the greater part – was a reflection of living under British rule. While there are two sides to the story of Ireland and British rule, Cecelia Kenny’s perceptions were her realities, and she believed her family and ancestors lived difficult lives due to oppression by the English. I don’t want to argue about any of the historical or political realities and ramifications related to the topic; I only want to remark that Grandma Kenny’s emotional commentary about her childhood memories and the family stories passed down for generations affected her in profound ways. She was a strong woman with strong opinions, and she passed them on to me and others.
I’m proud of my Irish and Scottish heritage. I married a woman comprised of Irish, German, Lithuanian and other blood, according to DNA analysis through ancestry.com. So our children are diluted Americans at this point, but I believe we all learn important lessons from family histories, even generations removed. I wonder if our kids agree.
Cheers from the Sonoran Desert, where I continue to write and edit.
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