Monday, May 19, 2014

What Will Become of Me? - Monday Musings

Until about the age of 40, maybe even 45, most of us generally feel confident that we have more years ahead of us than behind us.  But as we approach, oh, say, about the age of 50 or 55, we realize that we're on the shorter side of life. 

I'm at an age where I know I have fewer years left than I've already lived and sometimes I think, What will become of me?  (Morbid, you say?  Well, death is a fact of life:  no one lives forever.)  Knowing I've lived more than half my allotment of years I want to use the time I have left wisely:  I have a lot of things I'd like to do before I die.  But I'd like to have a guess how many years that could be (even though there's no certainty, of course).  Since longevity may be inherited I thought my ancestors' lifespans might give me a clue, so I made a list of my direct ancestors, their ages at death, and their causes of death.

Age  /       Name       /    Dates    /  Cause of Death (if available)  /  Relationship 

24   Beulah Gerner Doyle / 1888-1913 / illness after childbirth / grandmother
31   John Froman  / 1841-1871 /   ?   / 2nd g-grandfather
33   Emma Nelson  / ~1845-1878 /   ?   / 2nd g-grandmother
44   Gust Doyle / 1888-1933 / colon cancer & after-effects of surgery / grandfather
67   Mary Thompson Bickerstaff  / 1872-1940 / coronary thrombosis / g-grandmother
67   Ellis Bickerstaff  / 1840-1907 / suicide-mental breakdown / 2nd g-grandfather
68   Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen  / 1852-1920 / cancer of the face / g-grandmother
68   Tressa Froman Doyle / 1867-1936 / brain hemorrhage / g-grandmother
72   Andrew Doyle / 1836-1908 / intestinal obstruction / 2nd-g-grandfather 
73   John Thompson  /~1850-1923 / lobar pneumonia / 2nd g-grandfather
74   Lee Doyle  / 1913-1987 / heart attack / father
74   Edward Jesse Bickerstaff  /1871-1945 / cancer of prostate gland / g-grandfather
78   William Doyle / 1863-1941 / chronic valvular heart disease / g-grandfather
78   Frederick Gerner / 1848-1926 / chronic interstitial hepatitis / g-grandfather
78   Lydia Bell Thompson / 1851-1930 / cerebral apoplexy / 2nd g-grandmother
79   Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen / 1893-1973 / cardiac arrest / grandmother
79   Christian Gerner /~1820-1899 /  ?  / 2nd g-grandfather
79   Rebecca Smith Bartley / ~1820-1899 /   ?    / 2nd g-grandmother 
82   Audrey Meinzen Doyle  / 1915-1997 /   ?   / mother
84   Catherine Saylor Froman / 1844-1928 / heart disease / 2nd g-grandmother
86   William Bickerstaff  / 1807-1893 / paralysis / 3rd g-grandfather
87   W. C. Robert Meinzen / 1892-1979 /   ?   / grandfather
88   Elvira Bartley Gerner / 1854-1943 / senility, arteriosclerosis / g-grandmother
88   Henry Carl Meinzen / 1837-1925 / complications of old age / g-grandfather
91   Jacob Bell  / 1824-1915 / valvular heart disease / 3rd g-grandfather
94   Dixon Bartley / 1806-1900 /   ?   / 2nd g-grandfather

I also have two great-aunts, one maternal, one paternal, who lived to be over 100.

I still don't know what will become of me but I know I've lived longer than four of my direct ancestors and am younger than 22 of those ancestors when they died.  I know that there are still about 30 years between my age and the age at which the oldest ancestor died.  I still don't know how old I'll be when I die, but what an interesting exercise.  And now I'm off to make good use of the time I have left!



  1. Very thought-provoking post, Nancy! My dad died at age 55, and so I have definitely out-lived him! I try to "live life to the fullest," since none of us really do know when our time will be up!

    1. Thank you, Dorene. You're so right about never knowing when our time will be up. I guess that's what I was thinking about as this post came to mind.

  2. I hope you have the whole 30 years!

    1. Thank you, Kathleen. You are so sweet. It's hard to imagine living 30 more years but I would be happy about it IF my health holds out!

  3. Well that was cheerful. But it's important to contemplate what we're doing as genealogists and family historians. I always feel in a rush to find more and get it into a shape to pass along.

    1. I'm sorry, Wendy. I didn't mean for your day to start with a depressing thought. I know what you mean: what if I don't have everything together and then I'm gone. Even though one daughter said she'd take care of what I've done I'm not really sure she'd be interested in having all the papers and files I have. Who knows how much time I'll have to get everything in good order....

  4. I've never done it as formally as you did--but in my head I often make notes of how long my ancestors lived. I think we all do. Like you, I'm looking forward to an "interesting exercise" in future years. So far each decade of my life has been better than the previous one--and it will be fun to see what adventure the next few decades bring.


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