June 5, 2011
My husband often complains that I never write anything about his family history. Saying that our children need to know about both sides of their family. The sarcastic part of me says, “Well Mr. Mailhes, looks like you have some writing and researching to do!” But the family history addict says, “Oooh, something new and shiny!”
From my mother-in-law, I have recorded the following information:
Firman Mailhes was born somewhere in France. The story is that he came to America with a young bride who died. He returned to France and married her sister. Those two came to New Orleans and started the Mailhes family. Grandma (Aline Mailhes) didn’t speak English. As a child, I spoke French as I learned it from Grandpa. When I went to LSU and took French, I was asked all the time what I was saying. It turns out that whatever French Grandpa spoke, it wasn’t the French they were teaching at LSU! I dropped out of French.
They had two twin sons – one was either born blind or became blind. I don’t remember which one. He lived in a small apartment behind our house. We grew up on Poland in the 9th Ward. (I love the way, she says 9th – “nighnt”)
I often wonder if we were French at all. Of all the people that I grew up with, I never met another person named Mailhes. Maybe it’s one of those things where the name is misspelled.
I was able to share a ship’s manifest with my husband’s family showing that in 1908, Firmin Mailhes, born in France, entered New York on his way to New Orleans. It doesn’t look like he is traveling with the sister of a dead wife, but that is a question of research.
When was his hearing checked?
I finally was able to print and mail some pictures to my mother-in-law in New Orleans. She called to say how beautiful the children were and how she couldn’t wait for our visit this summer. I knew that she was going to ask if we’d had Gideon’s hearing checked. I was happy to report that we had.
My mother-in-law is deaf. She “hears” with powerful hearing aids and lip reading. She lost her hearing at 8 years old. Her uncle lost his hearing in childhood and her older son lost his hearing in adulthood.
It seems that the loss of hearing runs in my husband’s family. Through the genetic draw of cards, it has affected my mother-in-law around every turn.
Though, I doubt you would ever know she was deaf if you met her out and about. Before meeting my mother-in-law, my husband told me to always look her when I was speaking because she needed to read my lips. After speaking with her for a few minutes, I doubted that she was deaf at all! I was not completely convinced until one day my husband dropped a glass behind her and shouted an obscenity. She didn’t flinch and he touched her gently so that she was aware of the broken glass not a foot behind her.
My mother-in-law often joked, when we complained of being tired with a newborn in the house, that we should just turn our hearing aids off! She is very funny about her hearing loss. She is also very concerned about her grandchildren’s hearing. She always asks when was the last time that they had their hearing checked. She collects articles about coping with hearing loss…just in case.
Through research of my husband’s family, I have identified at least one person that has suffered hearing loss in each generation since the family came to the US in the mid-1800s.