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One of the issues with getting older is wondering if you will be stricken with some disease that befell one of your relatives. I'm not referring to the obviously genetic diseases that plague many families, but those of unknown origin that seem to predominate in the family. For example, if your grandmother had diabetes, then there is a good possibility that you may get diabetes as well. Better to know and be prepared than to succumb blindly.

We now have access to all sorts of vital records concerning those who have passed from this life. Death certificates reveal the cause of death, if you can read the scribbled handwriting. Honestly, they couldn't take the time to use a typewriter? Most of my kin died of heart attacks, usually at an advanced age. Some deaths were a little out of the ordinary. Creed Ballow, my second great-grandfather died of a fractured hip from "walking on sidewalk and falling." Senility was listed as a "contributing cause." "Senile Brain Syndrome" was listed on another family member's death certificate. I guess just "senility" wouldn't do. Some coroners must be frustrated writers at heart. Senility does seem common in my ancestors but that is probably due to living well into their 80s and beyond. My father's cousin, Loretta, who called him regularly with all sorts of weird tales, stated that she had seen Tom Selleck at the Dairy Queen in Cisco, Texas, and he had taken a fancy to her. Aunt Loretta was definitely having a senior moment!

One great-cousin on Mom's side was killed by a train. Apparently not ruled a suicide, just walking on the track and hit from behind. I do not think this could be blamed on wearing ear buds as he perished in 1955. Another distant cousin died after falling 60 feet off a cliff onto the West Virginia Turnpike.

Mining was a common occupation in Mom's family. At least two relatives were killed in mine accidents. A boiler explosion claimed another's life. Various cancers consumed others, not surprising because of their occupational exposure to coal dust.

Some deaths were very tragic. Thirteen-year-old Lukie Houston and his mother, Elsa Houston, were killed by Elsa's second husband, Ed Farrior, in 1935 in Duplin, N.C. The husband put Elsa in the driver's seat and her son in the passenger seat, got in the back seat, and then shot them in the back. He then killed himself. It was determined that Farrior became deranged over some real estate deal failures.

I am not a morose person. I don't dwell on death. When death approaches, there is no bargaining. "Everyone dies, but not everyone really lives," goes the quote. I plan on doing my best to stay alive. Suffice it to say, I need not worry about mining accidents or boiler explosions. I am wary of train crossings. I take an aspirin every day, don't smoke, and drink only on days ending in "y." The problem is finding that balance in keeping both physical and mental faculties in shape. Good physical health is not good if the mind goes first. Thankfully, I have much to keep my mind busy, which is the key to staving off Senile Brain Syndrome.

But I'm pretty sure I saw Julia Roberts smiling at me in downtown Siloam last week.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: Death, a family legacy

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