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  • Writer's picturePatricia Grayhall

Do You Have Interesting Ancestors?

My grandfather was born in the mid-1870s on a farm in Iowa, the eighth child of ten. His mother died (presumably of exhaustion) when he was a child.

He put himself through medical school working as a waiter, then migrated to the Pacific Northwest to serve a small timber community as the only doctor for miles around. He was a beloved physician who often did not charge his patients experiencing hard times and cared for some in his own home. He doctored the community through the great flu pandemic of 1918 and two world wars.

Though my grandfather died when I was only four years old, my emotional memory of his gentle presence and his love for me remains to this day. He was part of my inspiration to become a physician.

My grandmother's cousin was a dapper man. My grandmother adored him and they exchanged many fond letters. It seems she was his best friend. Something about him makes me wonder if perhaps he was gay. Born in the late 1800s he likely would have succumbed to societal pressures to be straight. Perhaps that is why he married late in life.


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