Over the Edge
By H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@worldnet.att.net
© H. David Morrow ~ May 1, 2005
I've just returned from picking up GW (Geneaholic Wife) at the hospital emergency room. Here's the background:
According to information GW received, from a cousin she never knew she had, a g-g-g-g-g-g Aunt (Esmerelda) gave birth to twins in 1850. Their names: Arley and Barley. (I'll refrain from commenting on Aunt Esmerelda's creativity.)
GW's new cousin had been kind enough to send her all the family information he had. GW spent the next few days (and most of the nights, too) typing all the data from the new cousin's sheets into her genealogy program. She was up all of last night trying to figure out the difference in twin's birth dates between her information and the new data.
This morning GW announced she was going to the library to check out the twins birthday on census films. I told her I thought it was a bad idea because she was so tired from lack of sleep the past few nights.
Unfazed, and unblinking, she said she was fine. GW drank a full glass of iced tea (with five teaspoons of sugar) and off she went. I figured the caffeine and sugar would be enough stimulation to get her there and back.
About an hour later, she called me... upset. According to the 1860 census, Arley and Barley were born in two different places and in two different years.
"That doesn't sound like twins to me," I opined.
"But," she replied, "they're also listed in a census as being the same age and having the same mother."
"Census-taker recording error? Two different fathers?" I questioned.
"I don't know, but I'm going to go over the records again to see if it's MY mistake."
Ralph, the librarian, subsequently told me he gave her a census film roll and checked on her about two hours later. He found GW laying on the floor curled up in a ball. The microfilm reader was still on; she was unresponsive to his questions. He assumed (because of her fetal position) she was in some
distress, so he called the ambulance.
The hospital called me and I rushed over to the emergency room. The doctor had ordered innumerable, expensive tests and finally told me she was fine, but very sleepy. He then started questioning me about GW's recent behavior.
"Has she been doing anything strange lately?" he asked me.
"Weeelll," I said extending the word while I wracked my brain. "She's been a bit forgetful."
"About two weeks ago, she put a whole bunch of clothes in the washer and
three hours later discovered she'd never turned on the machine," I told him.
"Hmmmm. Anything else?"
"Yeah. That same night she made tuna-noodle casserole for dinner. You know, with mushrooms and cream sauce."
The doctor's face lit up. It was obviously one of his favorites, too.
"Sounds good," he said.
"It usually is... except she forgot to put any tuna in the casserole!"
"Woops," said the doc.
"And a few days after that," I continued, "she fell asleep in front of her computer while reading a genealogy web site. I discovered her yelling the new cousin's name... in her sleep."
"Now I understand," said the doctor. "That explains what happened at the library and confirms my diagnosis. When did she boil eggs and let the water boil out?" he asked.
"About two weeks ago." This guy was good, I thought to myself.
"Well, within the next week, she'll offer to make you a special breakfast. It'll be a response to her guilt feelings about today's incident. Whatever you do, tell her to not to make the breakfast. That particular activity is exclusively indicative of her sickness."
"What's this malady called?" I asked.
He wrinkled his brow a little and said, "OPH. It stands for Obsessive Progenitor Hunting. You probably call it 'geneaholism' but OPH is what happens when a geneaholic goes over the edge."
"Over the edge? What's that mean? Is there any cure?" I asked in rapid fire.
"Over the edge is simply my way of saying that it could be a permanent condition. It IS curable, but there's nothing I can do for her. It just has to happen."
I gave him a perplexed look, "What has to happen?"
"She has to have a run of successful name searches. Usually a week's worth. Every OPH case I've ever seen has been cured that way or not at all," he said looking a little stressed.
I figured the pained look on his face was extreme empathy. "I never heard of OPH before."
"Most doctors don't even know it exists."
"So how did you learn about it?"
"I married a geneaholic. I figured I could cure her because I specialize in curing obsessions. No such luck, however. The worst time was when she said she'd make me a wonderful breakfast one Sunday morning. She wanted to apologize for working all night on one of her family lines. But I was just glad to be getting a really super breakfast.
"So, what happened?"
His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed. Retelling the story obviously caused the him some pain. "One Sunday morning she got up at 8 o'clock. I'd forgotten about her promise to make me breakfast and figured she was just going to look up someone on the internet (her usual activity when she gets up so early), so I went back to sleep."
"And she woke you with a kiss and breakfast?" I asked.
He continued as if I hadn't interrupted him. "The dog woke me about 10 o'clock. My wife was sound asleep next to me. The breakfast, two eggs over-easy, bacon, hash brown potatoes and toast with strawberry jam, was sitting on the kitchen table on a serving tray... cold, of course. She'd made me breakfast alright, but then forgot to bring it in to the bedroom. She just went back to sleep. That confirmed it. She had OPH."
With all the tests, hospital costs and doctor's charges, the bill came to over $3,000. The insurance company wouldn't pay any of it. They said OPH wasn't a recognized ailment; besides, they said, the incident wasn't covered because it was part of an elective procedure: going to the library.
That's when I went over the edge!