Since my last two posts have focused on the new search for my biological family, I thought it appropriate to focus on my parents (my real parents). This is the story of my adoption, and what family and family history mean to me.
When anyone in my family thinks of St. Paddy’s Day, they always and automatically think of Grandpa. Michael John Flanagan’s proud Irish heritage never shone brighter than on St. Paddy’s Day each year. Knowing absolutely nothing about his immediate or extended family, Michael clung desperately to his Irish roots.
Orphaned twice by the time he was a toddler, split from his sister and brothers, abused and hurt while a foster child, never wanted enough to be adopted, Grandpa Mike Flanagan should NOT have learned how to love. Except for Verne and Edna Buckley.
Patrick Thomas Flanagan (abt. 1897-1928) died on 23 December 1928 from tuberculosis, just two days before Christmas, plunging his family into a series of events that would leave the children orphans. My grandfather, at just 1-1/2 years old, never knew his father.
Uncle Joe died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, when I was in eighth grade. I hadn’t thought of him in years, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had Uncle Joe on my mind quite a bit this year. His was the first close family death of my life.Uncle Joe was only 36 years old when this horrible disease took his life.
My grand uncle Harry. J. Flanagan is the only sibling of my grandfather’s for whom I cannot confirm parentage. Both of the parents he claims were married to their first spouses at the time of his birth. And he is the only sibling for whom I cannot locate a birth or baptism record.
Patrick is the only one of my orphaned grandfather’s siblings I ever met. I remember Grandpa crying when Uncle Pat died. Grandpa was crying over the loss of his brother. But, more significantly, Grandpa was heartbroken over the loss of the only biological family member with whom he ever had a real relationship.