The Uncle I Never Met



My grandmother had two sets of twins. The first were identical sisters; my aunts. Then my father was born. The second pair were fraternal twins; my aunt and my uncle. My uncle didn’t survive the birth as his umbilical cord got knotted around his neck and he died from what is now known as perinatal asphyxia. My grandmother never got to see him. Some time later she gave him the name Paul, and it was as if there was always an absence in our lives.

Years after it happened my grandmother finally asked my father what did they do with his body? My father told her at that time babies who didn’t survive their births were disposed of by the hospital (I think they were probably cremated). She never knew, and she had never been told, and for all those years she had wondered.

For some reason I woke up with this incident in my head. I’m not sure why I dreamed about this part of my family history, but the fact that my grandmother was never told, and she wondered for years what they had done with him still bothers me.



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Ā©2019 Joanne Fisher






7 thoughts on “The Uncle I Never Met

  1. Wow! I didn’t know they just cremated them?! Nowadays they even let parents hold the body for a while, and I have known families who have had funerals for stillborns. And there are always lots of “Baby X” at old grave yards because they would have been born at home.

    But there’s that weird generation in the middle where everything got sanitized, not always in healthy ways. šŸ˜¦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think they thought at the time showing the mother their dead baby might cause unnecessary stress and suffering for the mother, so the child was usually whisked away by medical staff rather than letting the mother see it, though in reality, never being able to ever see their child probably caused far more damage to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s the sort of thing the grieving parents should be able to decide for themselves. Some would want to and some wouldn’t, I suppose. I don’t think anyone not in that situation should make the call. It was the age of paternalism in more ways than one though.

        My own grandmother had a kind of late-in-pregnancy miscarriage. She did not want to see it and I don’t believe they ever gave it a name. It’s not quite the same as a stillborn though, I’m not sure how developed the fetus was.

        Liked by 1 person

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