I gave myself a challenge earlier this month: try to write a song about a place.
So I wrote about an Illinoisan city of about 30,000 that I’ve never visited.
However, I have a connection to Kankakee.
In my genealogy hunt, I have been trying to figure out what happened to a family member about three generations back. My great-grandmother was a single mother who raised her daughter (my grandmother) during the Depression. My grandmother never knew what happened to her dad. All she knew was that he left the family before she could even remember him. All she had of him was a yellowed obituary taped to the inside of a Bible. I only wish I had the picture file from when I took a picture of it with my phone about a year before my grandmother passed away.
About a year and a half ago, I found out what happened to my grandmother’s father: he spent the last twenty-five-ish years of his life in the Kankakee State Hospital.
Now the next question: why? Why did my great-grandfather end up in an insane asylum? I’d love to know.
Because the more I know about him, the more I can find out about myself.
I’m hopeful but also dubious.
Hopeful because maybe by some chance the records have been kept. Dubious because they might not exist or I may not be able to get a hold of those records because of bureaucratic nonsense.
At any rate, this summer, I plan to dig into more of how I can find out what happened to my great-grandfather. I owe it to my grandmother.
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Image from My Life in Postcards