Tangled Genealogy 1: Can You Be Your Own Grandma?

January 1, 2020 Deborah Wilbrink

Confession: When someone begins to tell me how great aunts married brothers, resulting in a tangled genealogy, it’s only the start of my confusion. Being a linear writer but a visual thinker, I hope for a drawing of the family tree to set my thinking straight. Then I remembered a song  by Ray Stevens, the singer-comedian. The song proves you can be your own grandma, or in this case, grandpa. (Hint: it involves steps-)

Guitarzan guy is from Spunky Captions.

Ray is indelibly in my memory due to a special luncheon in the 1980s. I attended a leadership training session in a rural west Georgia county. The leaders brought sack lunches to a public cafeteria for their Christmas Party. Some on them were on the stage for our entertainment, acting out the 1969 song Guitarzan. Certainly the mayor in a  wig and loincloth, slinging his electric guitar, had us all screaming with laughter. That  memory and Ray Stevens has lasted.

Now he can provide help for tangled genealogy with a song, “I’m My Own Grandpa!” The song was was written by Moe Jaffe and Dwight B. Latham. They were inspired by a paragraph in a publication that can be traced to 1884 and earlier, so the song has its own genealogy. The Jesters and Oscar and Lorenzo recorded it in 1947, but the version I know is sung by Ray Stevens. Ray has opened a dinner show club in Nashville, Tennessee. You’l find me at the Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom one night soon. Meanwhile, I hope you get a laugh out of the lyrics – at the bottom of this post – like I did!

Genealogy Contest: Family Tree

Email me deb@perfectmemoirs.com with Your Family Tree illustration of the character “I” in I’m My Own Grandpa! Can you draw a better one than the one in the Youtube Video here?  The most accurate and most creative winners will be published on “Best Book Ever” and receive a free copy of Time to Tell Your Family & Personal History, a 90 page illustrated book with music CD by Deborah Wilbrink goes to the winner.

I’m My Own Grandpa

Moe Jaffe and Dwight B. Latham

Many, many years ago when I was 23
I was married to a widow who was pretty as can be

This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red
My father fell in love with her and soon they too were wed

This made my dad my son-in-law and really changed my life
For now my daughter was my mother ’cause she was my father’s wife

And to complicate the matter even though it brought me joy
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy

My little baby then became a brother-in-law to dad
And so he became my uncle though it made me very sad

For if he were my uncle that would also make him brother
Of the widow’s grown-up daughter who was of course my stepmother

Father’s wife then had a son who kept them on the run
And he became my grandchild for he was my daughter’s son

My wife is now my mother’s mother and it makes me blue
Because although she is my wife she’s my grandmother too

Now if my wife is my grandmother then I’m her grandchild
And every time I think of it, nearly drives me wild

‘Cause now I have become the strangest case you ever saw
As husband of my grandmother I am my own grandpaw

Oh I’m my own grandpaw
I’m my own grandpaw
It sounds funny I know but it really is so
I’m my own grandpaw…

I’m My Own Grandpa lyrics © Colgems-emi Music Inc.

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“The Best Book is Your Own Story.”
Deborah Wilbrink

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