Every family tree has them. Those eccentric kin who march to their own beat. However, there is a point where eccentric becomes something more. For some, this is a temporary condition; for others, it is long-term reality. Either way, for these family members, people euphemistically say that they are not all there, are off their rocker, have a screw loose, are out to lunch, or are just not right in the head.
In my genealogical researches, I have discovered plenty of eccentrics and a few who were as “mad as a hatter.” As my great-grandmother once observed at a family reunion, chuckling at the “characters” around her:
“The more nuts in the fruitcake, the tastier the treat.”
With that in mind, I am asking each of you to share the stories of family members who had bats in their belfry, who were one sandwich short of a picnic, or who suffered a moment of “temporary insanity.” Why, you may ask? Because, when it comes to mental illness, too often these ancestors’ stories are covered up or glossed over by their descendants. But I think that all of our ancestors’ tales should be told unabashedly and unvarnished—the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. As Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women said:
“…We’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them up in the attic. We bring ’em right down to the living room and show ’em off. …No one in the South ever asks IF you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they’re on.”
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