Friday, August 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Those We Lost Young

Sepia Saturday posts are often tinged with a bit of sadness since the subjects are typically no longer with us on earth. What strikes me as that so many of the family members in yellowing photo albums are not only gone but left at an young age.

Several posts back, I wrote about my great-uncle Claude who took his life in his 20s. His half sister -- my maternal grandmother -- also lost her "baby" brother Frank Cain, above around 1935. Born in 1907, he was the youngest of four children (not counting half brother Claude who was gone by the time he was in kindergarten). He is the baby in the photo below, taken in Kansas around 1908.
Though the baby, he assumed the role of the patriarch in the family when his father passed away when he was a teenager and was very close to my grandfather. Though brothers-in-law, they felt almost like brothers, equally ambitious and hardworking. Although his older brother was the first born, he was an eternal drifter and alcoholic, spending most of his adult life in and out of residential hotels and plasma banks.
Exactly what took Frank was never clear to me, a mysterious illness before he was even 30. His widow and three children left Kansas City for northern California, and I heard about them second had for years. She never remarried and was said to have been in mourning for the remaining 55 years of her life. I finally met her children in Fairfield when my parents first visited me in San Francisco in 1997. As we drove away, my mother said, "It's like they never left Missouri. I bet things would have turned out differently if Frank had lived."

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12 Comments:

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Martin H. said...

What a sad story. Particularly as Frank's widow wasn't able to rebuild her life, after his passing.

 
At 10:57 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Martin - It's amazing how a loss like that can haunt a family for so long. I never met Frank, but I knew much about him from family stories.

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Barbara and Nancy said...

At least Frank lives on in family stories. Maybe that's what we can all hope for.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Barbara and Nancy - If there is an after life, I think that may be where it is and it's a good place.

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

When half a couple in a good marriage dies, I think the spouse that's left behind usually has a difficult time. I don't know if it's harder for a younger spouse with children to care for or harder for an older spouse who has spent many, many years together.

Poor Frank's widow and her family. Sad years for her.

Beautiful photographs. I love the little houses.

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Nancy - I think loss is traumatic at any age. A coworker recently lost his 96-year-old mother, and saying "She lived such a rich, long life" really wasn't enough comfort.

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger Vicki Lane said...

All the might-have-beens.. so sad.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Vicki Lane - I'll aim for something more upbeat next post!

 
At 1:30 AM, Blogger Marilyn said...

Wonderful photos to have but sad times.

 
At 1:54 AM, Blogger Alan Burnett said...

You are right about the number of family members dying in what we would now call the prime of life. I suppose the great advances medicine has made over the last seventy-five or so years have been concentrated in this area : antibiotics and the great infectious diseases and the like. Sad story, but oh so interesting.

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger Christine H. said...

So sad. I do wonder how differnt things would have Frank lived longer.

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger tony said...

Loss Leaves Many Ripples. A Sad Memorial.

 

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