Remembering Fathers Taken To Young

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

As Father's Day is here one of the things I am thankful for as a military widow is that my four children are able to grow up remembering their father. When my husband, CPT Drew Pearson, was KIA on April 30, 2008, my children were 12,11, 9, and 5 years old. Thanks to the world of technology and various support groups around us, my children are able to grow up still knowing their father. They know what their father looked like, are able to talk about memories in order to keep him alive in their hearts and get hugged in support of organizations such as A Soldier's Child and Snowball Express.

One of the reasons I am thankful is because when I think back to some of my ancestors, like my paternal 2nd great-grandmother, Perlina Killion her experience with the death of her father would have been much different from my children's own experience. Perlina's father which is my 3rd great-grandfather was Jasper Killion. He joined the fight within our nation during the Civil War on September 21, 1864. As a private, he served in the 57th Indiana Regiment with G Company. Jasper along with others was captured in the battle at Franklin, Tennessee by the Confederacy on November 30, 1864. During his imprisonment at the Confederacy Prison at Andersonville in Georgia, he became ill. His strength and determination to survive allowed him to beat the odds against him and walked out of Andersonville Prison at the end of the war to return home.

Thanks to his Civil War Pension Records, I learned Jasper never recovered to his full health prior to the imprisonment. Upon his discharge from the military on June 16, 1865, he was able to return home to his wife and 3 children. His health struggles never improved and he passed away after a few years with his family on January 23, 1868. Perlina was 9 years old. She was the same age as one of my own daughters when my husband was KIA. Perlina's sister, Mary was 8 and Sylvester was 6.

With my 2nd great-grandmother and her siblings being so close to the ages of my own children, it makes me wonder if they had a photo of their father while growing up. How long were they able to remember what their father looked like and remember his voice? I have not yet found a photo of Jasper Killion, so I do not know if one ever existed. I wonder if the family shared stories about Jasper or if they didn't talk about him because of their struggle with the grief of losing their father. I am still learning about the time period after the Civil War. I am sure that the support system for the family dealing with their grief was nothing like it is today. I wondered how they each handled their grief and growing up without their father.

I am thankful today that children are able to hold on to their deceased parents' memories and are able to see photos of their parents. It is much easier in today's world to keep deceased fathers' memories alive than it was centuries ago.