The Last In Line

The Last In Line

A Story by F. Mary Jesson

The Last In Line

 

We’ll know for the first time,

If we’re evil or divine.”

         The Last In Line

         Dio  

 

      I am the last of my line.  Strictly speaking, that is not entirely true.  My brother and I are the last of our line.  He and I are both unmarried and childless, and not likely to correct that deficiency.   My sister has children and grandchildren.  But they of course don’t carry the name.  Nor do I expect they feel much connection to their mother’s maiden name or who held it beyond their aunt, uncle and grandmother.  When my brother and I meet our end, so will the last of our name and that particular line on the family tree.


         I have no desire for immortality, in the purest definition of the word.  Why would anyone want to actually live forever?  Sure, it would be cool to be around for the next great re-interpretation of rock and roll, if space tourism ever becomes economically viable, or if the Republicans stop denying climate change.  But I don’t have that kind of retirement funds and I don’t care to work, literally, forever.  Similarly, I can’t fathom those whose desires for immortality manifests itself in that impure definition; fear of death.  It’s not as though I’m anxious to die anytime soon, or that I would be ok with a painful and/or frightful death.  But people die, the world keeps spinning and life goes on. 


         It is in that respect, the life going on, that I am jealous of my sister.   She knows her life will go on forever in her children and grandchildren.  The only real immortality lies with those who will remember you when you are gone.  And if no one will remember you after you die, or worse, if no one wants to remember you, then you don’t just die.  It’s as if you were never even here.


         I know a great deal about my mother’s life; from her childhood pets that her mother didn’t like in the house, to her first husband who spirited her, and his mistress, off to live in Rome within weeks of their wedding, to how my father was so unlike her first husband in that when my father said he was going out for smokes, he invariably came back in the normal amount of time it should take one to get smokes, rather than ending up across state lines in jail.  I know so much about my mother’s life for one particular reason.  I asked.  I know almost nothing of my father’s life for one regrettable reason.  He never gave me any reason to want to ask. Stuck soundly in the muck that was his misery, he neither ran from his demons nor ever tried to understand them enough to cast them out.


         It wasn’t until after his death that I started to want to know, to ask.  But there were few to ask, and certainly not Dad.  The grave is silent.  Even in life, though, he was only slightly more forthcoming than the grave.  Few, if anyone, ever really knew him.  Many who knew him didn’t like him very much.  Myself included.  Some hated him.


         My father buried his own father in an unmarked grave.  My grandfather’s worldly possessions at the time of his death amounted to a total of $7.23 in assorted paper and coin, a check for $7.76, a couple of rings, a tie clasp, a billfold, a change purse and personal papers.  He died alone and was found only when someone smelled the decaying corpse in his rented room.


         I’m not saying that will happen to me, but I’m also sure it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.  I’m nearly 48, and given the hearty, immigrant, dirt-farmer ancestors from which I sprang, I’ll likely live to be close to 100, barring a bus accident.  Who’ll be there in 50 years, except my dog and the inevitable twelve cats, to mourn my passing? To remember my life? To see my mortal remains laid to rest in the manner I would wish? To inherit and cherish my favorite books, my grandmother’s rings and linens, my journals and the makeshift scrap-book/diary that I started to write down my own poems in when I was 11? 


         If I don’t tell the world that I was here, the day will surely come when the world will never know I was here.  Just as surely as the world has already largely forgotten that my father and his father were ever here.  Maybe I’m giving my ancestors and myself too much credit.  Maybe the world doesn’t give a rat’s a*s that I ever existed.  Or that my grandfather, in his unmarked grave, ever existed.  By all accounts, he was an a*****e. 


         But I give a rat’s a*s.  No life should be so inconsequential as to end in an unmarked, unmourned, grave.  Good man or bad man.  Drunkard or tea-toter.  Doting daddy or absent sperm donor.  Evil or divine.  I am the last in line left to tell their stories, and through them, my own.

© 2016 F. Mary Jesson


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Featured Review

I find this very well-written and interesting, following a line of thought that I'm no stranger to. Of course it may be fiction, but I suspect there's at least a kernel or two of truth. My father was very proud of the Dickens name and always concerned about its survival. One of three brothers, only he had any children. Of my brother and me, only I had any male children. The burden got passed down, and my middle son, after producing two girls, finally gave me a grandson. Somewhere beyond the veil, father smiles. From the sorry look of things, (aforementioned republicans denying climate change, etc) our race won't be around much longer, so none of it will matter. Even so, I also give a rat's a*s. Creating writing, art and such, is a pretty good insulator against the reaper, in that it keeps a bit of us alive long after the dirt is thrown in.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

F. Mary Jesson

4 Years Ago

Thank you! It's not fiction. I wish it was. I find your writing masterful, so to have you say tha.. read more



Reviews

I love the sentence, "If I don't tell the world that I was here...". I'm in the same situation you are: no kids, so I sure can relate to your essay. Maybe that's why I recently became interested in genealogy. Sadly, like you, I have no one to ask the questions. My mom is still alive, but dementia causes her to be forgetful. For reasons I don't know, I wasn't interested ten years ago when she told her tales of the past.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

F. Mary Jesson

4 Years Ago

We are very much in the same boat. I've been tracing my genealogy for several years now and have hi.. read more
Jocelyn_wonders

4 Years Ago

That's great. Cause I've decided to subscribe to your writing.
I see no reason why you have limited your readership by marking this as for mature readers. It is a good, well-written piece and deserves a wider readership. I say this as one who posted a story a few weeks ago (not sexual content at all but references to violence) and only received a reasonable number of views when I changed it to suitable for everyone.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

F. Mary Jesson

4 Years Ago

Thanks you! Great feedback.
I find this piece connected to the core of human mortality and the question of life and the soul. I believe it is true what you said when you said that "No Life should be so inconsequential as to end in an umarked, unmourned, grave". Every person's life is important and even if you don't realize it your life has touched someone else's weather in a good or bad way. I have memories of random people I have met just once and what they said lingers with me. Your soul is ever changing by the occurrences in your life and just one encounter can lead a person on a completely new path. You may not have children to bare your legacy but your existance has come into the thoughts and minds of others in the time you have been given and that in itself is a life worth living and has meaning. By writing this you already have created a memory in my mind so thank you :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

F. Mary Jesson

4 Years Ago

I'm overwhelmed at your kind words. Thank you. I'm glad my piece touched you.
I find this very well-written and interesting, following a line of thought that I'm no stranger to. Of course it may be fiction, but I suspect there's at least a kernel or two of truth. My father was very proud of the Dickens name and always concerned about its survival. One of three brothers, only he had any children. Of my brother and me, only I had any male children. The burden got passed down, and my middle son, after producing two girls, finally gave me a grandson. Somewhere beyond the veil, father smiles. From the sorry look of things, (aforementioned republicans denying climate change, etc) our race won't be around much longer, so none of it will matter. Even so, I also give a rat's a*s. Creating writing, art and such, is a pretty good insulator against the reaper, in that it keeps a bit of us alive long after the dirt is thrown in.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

F. Mary Jesson

4 Years Ago

Thank you! It's not fiction. I wish it was. I find your writing masterful, so to have you say tha.. read more

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4 Reviews
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Added on March 11, 2016
Last Updated on March 12, 2016
Tags: geneology, family, essay, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, legacy

Author

F. Mary Jesson
F. Mary Jesson

Sarasota, FL



About
I've had a lifelong dream to be a writer. After almost 25 years working in government, I've decided to try my hand at writing a novel. more..

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