3. Bertha Emiline Selma Buls (08/02/1873 – 01/01/1956)
m. Charles C. (Karl) Schlinke (01/09/1870 – 03/14/1953)
…..3.5 Bernice Louise Schlinke (10/20/1898 – 04/19/1972)
m. James Marion Boring (03/06/1887 – 09/20/1938)
…..3.5.4 Selma Louise Boring (03/25/1927 – 04/25/2012)
m. Glenn Lewis Morris (10/06/1924 – 06/30/1976)
……18.104.22.168 Sheila Rae Morris (04/21/1946 – )
I have a distant cousin who is the great-granddaughter of my great-grandmother’s sister on my mama’s side. This cousin is working on the genealogy of our family and in that process has completed much of my ancestry as well. I like the presentation and the numerical configuration of the generations in the chart she sent me this past week.
For example, my great-grandmother was the third child in her family and was sensibly assigned the number 3 to start her descendants. She married my great-grandfather and they had twelve children of their own according to the information I received this week. I also know from oral history that they raised two other children who belonged to a relative that either died or was unable to care for them. The eleventh birth child died when she was two years old so they raised 13 children during their married life.
My grandmother was the fifth child of the Schlinke family and so our numbers all begin with 3.5. She married my grandfather and they had four children. My grandfather died at an early age as a result of a car wreck which hospitalized him and ultimately resulted in pneumonia and his death.
On a totally unrelated topic, a childhood friend called me last night and in the course of our conversation, her husband called to her from another room and told her to ask me if I knew my grandfather Boring had invented the machine that made soft serve ice cream. I admitted I had never heard this story. Apparently the reason we aren’t wealthy today from the invention is that his best friend stole the patent. I found this remarkable and would like to know whether there is any truth to it. I do know my grandfather had quite the entrepreneurial spirit and had owned a root beer stand, movie theater, restaurant and ice cream delivery business. A soft serve ice cream invention sounds possible.
I digress. My mama was the fourth child of their marriage and the only daughter. Her number on the chart is 3.5.4 and she married my daddy and they produced me a/k/a 22.214.171.124. So far, so good.
I’ve looked at this chart for several days and have had a great memory trip of the Schlinke family reunions in Houston and at our home in Richards, Texas. The Schlinke children were boisterous, fun-loving, and entertaining for me as a child. They were my great aunts and uncles and wonderful to their children and grand-children whenever we were together. Each 3.– and the numbers below them were unique yet a blend of their siblings and parents.
But while I enjoyed looking at these past generations, I had a nagging suspicion that something was not quite right about this chart. I studied it and studied it…and studied it some more and all of a sudden it hit me. I had no M Dot. I was 126.96.36.199 on the chart, and then that part of our line stopped dead in its tracks. It was like the Rapture had come and I had been taken without leaving any sense of who my family was. No M Dot. There were certainly others who had no M Dot on the tree, and I don’t know if they had committed family relationships or not, but I know for sure I do.
I have been a lukewarm advocate for marriage equality in the GLBTQ movement. When I was working actively for social justice issues in the 1990s and early years of the 21st century, the idea of same-sex marriage in my lifetime seemed impossible. I worked for domestic partner benefits in the workplace. I worked for non-discrimination in housing in the City of Columbia. I worked for the partners of HIV/AIDS patients to be able to visit together in our hospitals. I worked to have domestic partners included as beneficiaries of life insurance contracts because they had an insurable interest in the owner of the contract. But marriage equality was Beyond Thunder Dome to me.
The year is now 2014 and 19 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. Many of my friends in South Carolina have traveled to one of these states and taken vows in a marriage ceremony. I’ve seen their pictures and read their stories on facebook, and they’ve told me about their experiences and the affirmation those legal marriages afford them. While I can rejoice with my friends, I never really yearned to join them. Teresa and I wear the matching gold bands – we have the jewelry – as my friend Robyn told us, and that has been enough.
Thanks to the vision and courage of our community leaders, federal laws are changing quickly and I now believe a real possibility exists for modifying the Social Security system to correct the inequities and discrimination of the past against same-sex spouses in survivor and retirement benefits. Holy mackerel. Possibly I need to get married for what is no longer pie-in-the-sky financial dreams. I think I’ll wait to see if it really happens first.
It was the M dot that jolted me out of my sense of complacency about marriage and marriage equality. Nothing is more important to me than my family, the one I have today and the ones that have now become my ancestors. A hundred years from now when another descendant of my great- grandmother Selma Buls Schlinke is studying our family chart, I want them to know one of their relatives was a lesbian who lived and loved in a strange time when her sexual orientation was an issue but she had an M dot in spite of it.
As we drifted off to sleep last night, I told Teresa I would like to marry her because I didn’t have an M dot on my family tree. She asked me if I thought that was a good reason to get married so I knew I had phrased the proposal badly. Okay, so I need a little refresher course. Words are my business. I will do better.