Legacy

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When you die, how do you wish to be remembered
and by whom?

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konzack-tacquard-pedigree-chart

click here to enlarge

The five of us lounged in recliners and the two soft leather couches with wine or cocktails in hand. We had finished our saucers with portions such as artichoke dip with Mediterranean Herb or Sea-salted pita crackers. Fresh strawberries, grapes, broccoli and cauliflower bites and a crab-log dip were also available. After all, it was my small, modest birthday party — just as I like it.

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

We five had arrived at this question in a rather funny way. Ms. Lyncháge had been describing how when she and her late husband had friends over to their small farm cottage, his billy goats — particularly the bucks she explained — seemed to always mount the does just in time and en massé to show off the grandeur of raw masculinity to their human guests. Her and her late husband’s embarrassed… umm, excuses to guests about the loud pornographic show was essentially caused by the local water and/or the trees, bushes, weeds, or “Fescue-passion grass” as possible causes of untimely uninhibited goat-sex. “Is there much difference between goat-love and any other mammalian love?” I asked the room. My mother chimed in “Hah! As one of eleven children, I can safely say ‘HELL YES!’” She pointed over to a large picture of my maternal grandparents (below), specifically her father.

felix-blanche-bonnet

Grandpa & Grandma Bonnet

If there were a hundred different oral tales and stories about my maternal grandparents, the one that was always discernible was Grandpa Bonnet was cheerfully relaxed and content and Grandma Bonnet:  easily agitated. Apparently twelve times and over 172 years agitated, if combining all their children’s rearing years! Ms. Lyncháge, my Mom, and Mrs. Mortician all vehemently gave their personal agreements, and with all being grandmothers too, in unison proclaimed proudly and resoundingly “Keep your damn thingy AWAY from me!

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

Several months ago I learned from Mom more about the maternal side of the Bonnets:  the Preece side. It was widely suspected among my maternal grandmother’s family that two, possibly three Aunts were ladies of the night. This apparently was one cause (among many I’m sure) to why one Preece-branch was Pentecostal Church goers, and the other… umm, “something else.” As our family story goes, my Grandpa and Grandma Bonnet would not talk much about “that part” of the family. At family reunions I often heard from other maternal aunts, uncles, great cousins, great aunts and great uncles that “not much is known about that side of the family.” No matter how many times Why was asked, the answers were short and vague. A family conundrum having lived within a few miles or half-day’s slow horse ride from each other!

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

Last July while visiting two days/nights with my Aunt and Uncle — my Dad’s younger brother and sister-in-law — I learned some fascinating details about my paternal grandmother’s side (Konzack and Tacquard) going back five and six generations to Xavier and wife Robin Gauthier, who in the early 1800’s lived southwest of Paris, France in Baillou near Le Mans. It was known much of the Tacquard side lived in and around Vauthiermont near Switzerland before some moved toward Paris. I read a copy of a personal letter written in French by Robin Gauthier to my grandmother’s maternal family (the Tacquards) in Alta Loma, Texas transposed into English by one of my French-English speaking great great aunts; see following images.

Learning about such intimate details of our Gauthier and Guyot ancestors, as well as life in 1850s France was not just fascinating, but very personal. They descended from a Germanic origin which in various socio-familial ways, timelines, migrations and immigrations found their way from 1830-1840’s Europe to Galveston and Indianola, Texas. As the personal letter reads, the story of our Tacquard family is one of genuine enthusiasm and some hardships. It explains in part why so many traveled so far to Texas for new opportunities.

The majority of otherwise less known white-Texas history — for example, the truer history as opposed to those families from southeastern and midwest slave states from early America and their versions — actually originates from German, French, and some Eastern European, Italian, and Spanish heritage. These various Texian-Tejano families typically settled in early 19th-century townships and counties with familiar cultures and customs. Several Texas genealogical historians today record that these groups of Texas-Europeans fled their native continent to escape political, religious, and racial tyrannies. This stands in clear contrast to what southeastern and midwest slave-owning U.S. families brought to mid-to-late 19th-century Texas which is more widely told or written. Most all of my maternal and paternal ancestral family sides were, in various degrees, libertarians, reformists, agorists, abolitionists, and/or egalitarians. Click here for a brief encapsulation of the first Tacquards arriving in 1844 Indianola and founding the town of Castroville, Texas. They tried to stick together through time and travels, usually succeeding. My Konzack-Tacquard line had what might only be described as (by wide comparisons)… unconventional spousal, parenting, passionate and lively social relationships within their innermost circle.

Romance, dancing, flirtation, absorbing enchantment, and frankly sex were never viewed or practiced as dirty, evil, or sinful. On  the contrary, it was gladly embraced as quite natural, quite human; a necessary pleasure if you will. My paternal grandmother was a nationally competing ballroom dancer, and she was exceptionally graceful. Her mother, my great grandmother Lucile Tacquard-Konzack, I fondly remember as spunky, charmingly agile for her lofty age, forthright, and always ready to laugh. My father absolutely idolized her. She and her family loved life and those dearest to her. Every year the “Kiddo” Tacquard reunion, barbeque, spirited-beverages, and live music by bands that could play all the popular Texas 2-step and waltz songs, 1950’s jitterbugs and swings, as well as the traditional French-German polkas and schottisches out on Kiddo’s massive unwalled hay-barn with concrete foundation scattered with sawdust was a town spectacle. It was a gathering of all in-law families and close friends numbering in the hundreds. Through my adolescence into my 20’s this partying reunion was an event I feverishly looked forward to every July 4th holiday weekend! Some of my fondest happiest memories were there with everyone.

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These family traits were and had been passed down from generation to generation, especially through maternal family lines. My father learned about intercourse from a live demonstration by his parents at the age of sixteen. Tis true. Upon the death of my paternal grandmother, my aforementioned uncle and aunt, while sorting through all her private belongings, discovered in one of her favorite books several nude photos of herself taken at their nearby rural bayou-property. Shy, as I remember, was never a Konzack-Tacquard quirk. Life was to be fully experienced, not feared.

So returning to my present-day birthday party-guests, I shared these family customs, with some discretion of course, and I asked the room…

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

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My great grandmother Lucile Tacquard-Konzack, c. 1916

I would destroy or burn anything like that!” replied Mrs. Mortician. “Oh, I have already done away with” Ms. Lyncháge explained, “items of that nature between my late husband and I.” We all laughed at such family secrets. Earlier in the evening in the kitchen they had heard my Mom and I briefly talk about our Preece Ladies of the Night and more family secrets. And why not? When you are among close dear friends who are very trustworthy, what are “appropriate” necessary boundaries? What constitutes truly endearing adoring friendships? What should immediate and extended family descendants be expected to understand about multi-faceted dynamics and expressions of love? Who best to learn from?

Over the last couple years my mother continues packing or unpacking to move out of her house going through very sentimental personal letters and items she and my father exchanged while dating. Reading and reminiscing she tacitly expressed to me how passionate and sexual their earliest years had truly been. My personality (family DNA?) warmly thought “How natural; how very human. As it should be.

As a tribute from my own generation’s music, I offer this song I feel is my dance of life for my family of lifetime music-loving dancers going back at least five and six generations…

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A Konzack-Tacquard heirloom – 1913 Edison Amberola Phonograph

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom?

In my own personal lifetime, I too have created and accumulated MANY cherished romantic, fervent, even wickedly primal moments, and many with photos, in letters, and on video. During our separation and inevitable divorce, my children’s mother made me burn everything intimate and/or sexual we had between us, including all the Swinging-BDSM photos and videos. At the time I did so in the earnest hope I might save our marriage and my family. Today, I understand why she demanded it all be destroyed, but I don’t agree with her reasons. To this day I still have 3-5 recently past relationships of cherished, romantic, steamy memories safely and secretly stored away. Those 3-5 ladies know I have them and the others. To them, or any intimate partner in my future, I do not hide this. It is my way of expressing to them how much they meant to me and still mean to me. All beauty and passion should be free. All have opportunities to be just as adored, just as loved if not more. Come what may!

come-join-me

My hope is that she/they would embrace all my moving past life-moments and for my own personal reasons, cherished memories from a window of time that made me who I am. Very fun unforgettable times, past. Moments captured in a time gone by, but not lost. Nothing more, nothing less. Or are they?

If you pass into the afterlife, or pass from this life sooner than expected, suddenly… should those cherished, sentimental, romantic, passionate things be (or have been) destroyed forever, never to be known or treasured by even your closest most meaningful persons or descendants?

When you die, how do you wish to be remembered and by whom? What will your true legacy be?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Footnote — if interested, this post: My Heretical Heritage, covers some of my maternal ancestory.

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Is Anyone Else Scared Sh*tless?

I have done a horrible job of staying on top of my blog here and following the many blogs I enjoy following.  For those of you here now who haven’t forgotten about me, THANK YOU!  I appreciate so much your loyalty!  I will jump over to your blogs no matter how hectic my summer schedule becomes or has surprisingly become despite what I thought would be a relaxing, blog-writing and commenting summer break.  Grrrrrrr!

 

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As my family and I approach my Dad’s 24th anniversary of passing away to suicide, today I want to reflect back on one of his most memorable, most classically funny moments he and my grandfather made for me and my family.  This is one I have never forgotten.

63ChevyImpalaMy Grandpa Bonnet had a wonderful simple sense of humor.  It was that humor you find in small country Texas towns from farmers, ranchers, and cowboys.  As long as I had known my Grandpa Bonnet, nothing ever seemed to get under his skin or ruffle his feathers because he could always find some comical interpretation to life’s curve-balls.  Everyone in my family loved it, my Dad especially.  Granny Bonnet, not so much.  Even if Granny Bonnet was in a tirade, Grandpa would find the humor in something.  Many times it egged-on Granny making us begin to chuckle under our breath hoping she would not see or hear us.  It was hilarious, especially when Granny finally left the room!

One holiday weekend myself, my sister, Mom, Dad, Granny Bonnet, and Grandpa Bonnet all climbed into Grandpa’s 1963 yellow Chevy Impala.  I can’t remember now where we were going – it didn’t matter then – but it couldn’t have been too far because McDade was a tiny remote town in central Texas where they had lived for several years.  McDade was famous because of the twin-knob hills in the distance where a famous wild-west shoot-out took place, not too unlike what happens today in our great “free” Lone-Star-for-a-reason state (wink).

My sister, Mom, and Granny were sitting in the back seat.  Dad and I sat up front with Grandpa, who was driving.  I wasn’t real sure why all the women sat in the back that day, but now that I’m older, wiser, and an eighth-generation Texan, I now have a very good idea.  But on this day, and hindsight being 20/20, I would have been more than happy to be in the trunk!

Blind squirrel

Blind squirrel!

It was well after 12-noon, a pleasant summer evening, and we were on one of the many two-lane-only state highways in the middle of nowhere near McDade.  Grandpa loved to talk and tell his simple stories.  Granny also liked to talk, non-stop, but not in story-form.  Her chatter was everything that was wrong or could go wrong, remarkably and often circling back to Grandpa.  Granny Bonnet was the epitome of an incessant worry-wart.  As I reached my teen-years, I began to see clearly why Grandpa Bonnet had such a fantastic sense of humor and thick skin.

The first sign our “family drive” was to be exciting was when we approached something centered in the middle of the highway and unflinching.  My Grandfather and Dad noticed it.  It was a squirrel sitting up on its hind-legs seemingly as brave (or stupid) as squirrels-in-the-road can be.  In fact, I thought it was a fake stuffed-animal it was so perfectly still.  Grandpa began talking to the rodent like a Squirrel-whisperer, “Move little guy.  You better move!”  Nothing.  The idiot squirrel just sat there like a stone statue.  My sister in the back seat sat up, amazed that it wouldn’t run off.  She too begged it to run.  We were only seconds away now…Grandpa kept a steady 55 mph, not slowing down one bit.  We approached, Grandpa centered his yellow Impala straight at it, I thought so he could pin it to the radiator or hood!?  My eyes widened and the gasps began.  Still that damn stupid animal would not budge!  The women began screaming at Grandpa in horror “STOP!  STOP Grandpa!” as we drove over it, but Grandpa only chuckled more with each closing foot!  “Murderer!” I heard my sister yell.  I waited to hear the thumps underneath the floorboard trickling from front, right down our shoe-soles to the back.

Total silence.

 

Then EVERYONE, including Grandpa, jerked our heads and gaping mouths rearward to see the carnage…

And as if to say “I won!” that squirrel sat exactly where he stood, unmoved, unscathed!  It was the most astonishing death-wish-gone-wrong I’d ever seen.  It was impossible for anyone to express this miracle of life because Granny was screaming undecipherable words at Grandpa even my Mom had never heard!  I stared at Grandpa and he just chuckled at every sentence Granny tried to complete.  I looked over at my Dad and he was doing the same thing, but face forward to escape Granny’s verbal wrath.  Swept up by the moment, I let burst my laughter too.  Now Granny was getting furious with anyone in the front seat!

As we continued down the two-lane-only highway, without missing a beat or miles per hour, Grandpa just HAD to share his newly discovered squirrel-stew recipe.  Talk about the live definition of inciting, Grandpa had decades of experience and the war-medals to prove it (wink)!  It was all my Dad could do not to multiply the soft mumbled jokes coming from Grandpa.  In the front seat, one joke would lead to another simple story.  In the back seat, more high-pitched cackling with each non-response from Grandpa – he was in the middle of a story!  Grandpa would face my Dad and I while talking, making sure we could hear him.  The more Granny bitched at Grandpa, the more Grandpa would chuckle and grin at us to make louder his point.

mcdade_watertowerRight about that moment I noticed things hitting and pinging the underside of the car.  I sat way up to get a better view, “now what!?”  Ahead was a slow drifting right-curve, not sharp, but nonetheless going in a direction that was clearly not straight.  I looked up at Grandpa and he was waist-deep in his story, trying to keep at least an equal decibel level to Granny, Mom, and my sister in back, but looking uninterrupted at my Dad.  I snapped back to the highway in front, that was less in front.  I looked back at Grandpa trying to impolitely interrupt him politely!  I snapped my head to Dad; did he see my face at all!?

Um, is anyone else scared shitless as I am right now!?  Hello!

Our fast-moving Chevy Impala was now ever-so-slightly beginning to lean left as the highway ever-so-gradually moved to the right!  It had become so loud between Granny’s verbal tirade at Grandpa and Grandpa’s grand story about squirrel barbecuing, that no one could hear the gravel hitting the tires and floorboard!  I glanced back to Dad – perhaps to take one last look at him in life – and as Grandpa drew a breath and Granny was exhausted, just as calm and serious as an airline pilot preparing everyone for impact, my Dad said…

Mr. Bonnet,” and my Dad pointed forward, “Is that the McDade water-tower up ahead?

Grandpa looked, why yes it was…and in that instance the right-side tires fell off the shoulder and gravel began shooting out everywhere!  He jerked the steering wheel right and corrected our direction from bumpy doom into cedar-fence posts, to the intended path of proper motor vehicles with just a few clumps of grass packed in the front bumper; the cows would never miss!  Saved!

Grandpa began laughing uncontrollably!  Shocked, I couldn’t decide if he was laughing so hard at my Dad’s question, or if he was laughing more at Granny’s renewed vocabulary at him.  We must have heard thirty different versions of “You’re suppose to look at the road when you drive Felix, not get us splattered with the cows!”  Needless to say, there was no silence all the way home.  And I’ve never seen my Grandpa grin at me so much for so long a drive.  Normal?  I imagine so after some of the words and phrases I learned from Granny.  Insane?  Hell yeah!  Between stoned-up squirrel, squirrel barbecuing, shifty highways, a furious non-stop cackling old Granny, and two adult men laughing in the face of vehicular off-roading disaster and the back-seat narrative that went with it?  Yeah, totally insane, but totally rad!

Miss those new moments Dad, but I keep ones like this forever.  Thank you.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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