Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

My mother, Mildred Darlene Bevil Weaver, was pregnant for eleven years and three months. Not all at one time, of course. She had sixteen children as the result of fifteen pregnancies--there was one set of twins. I was number nine of the sixteen. We all had the same father.

People often talk about their brushes with death. I, on the other hand, often think of my brush with non-existence because if my parents had been typical American parents with 2.3 kids, or whatever the average is, I would never have been born.

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about my mother.

My mother came from a family of conquerors. She descended from a Viking who helped conquer and then settle Normandy. One of his descendants was a knight named de Beville, who went with William in 1066 to conquer England. In 1660, one Essex Bevill (notice the Anglicizing of the last name), migrated to Virginia and it is from him that most of the Bevils in America came. I am not sure why Essex came to America, but the fact that he came in 1660 leads me to theorize that he chose the wrong side during the English Civil War and had to flee the country when Charles II ascended to the throne.

The first Bevils in America owned land and slaves. Essex’s descendant, James Burton Bevil (by now the double l had been dropped off the name), my mother’s great-grandfather, chose the wrong side during the American Civil War and had to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States before he was paroled by the government at the end of the war.

By now the Bevil family had descended into the middle class. My great-grandfather was a farmer and my grandfather was a tank car inspector for Union Carbide. While many people lost their jobs during the depression, he managed to keep his, although his hours were reduced.

My mother must have inherited some of the Viking spirit. After most of her children had grown up and when my father took sick, my mother went to college and graduated with a B.A. at age 55 and then taught school ten years before retiring.

She never stopped being a mother. When my second oldest sister got cancer, my mother moved to Virginia to help take care of her until my sister died. Then my mother moved back to New York State for awhile, until another sister got sick and she moved to North Carolina to help take care of her.

My mother was an active woman up until the end of January 2002, when she was admitted to the hospital and died a few days later, at the age of 78.

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