Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day to my father, my grandfathers, my great-grandfathers and all the others

Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there! Enjoy your day - you deserve it.

This will be the twelfth Father's Day without my Dad. I still tear up at the Sears Fathers Day commercials and can't set foot in the hardware tool department between Mother's Day and Father's Day. I see so many tools and gadgets that I know my father would have loved.

My husband gets photos for Father's Day. I hope he enjoys them. I think he does.

The best gift I can give to those fathers who have gone before is to continue my family history research, continue to locate "lost" relatives and to connect with as many of my relatives as I can. As I work on the family history, I find myself wanting to pick up the phone to call my Dad to tell him that I found this tidbit of information or that I heard from that cousin. Dad would have loved to have heard my news.

He wasn't excited about uprooting the family tree at first. He thought it a bunch of hooey and told me that I if I thought I was going to find royalty or famous people in our tree, I could just stop and save myself time and energy. As I located the graves of his great grandparents and reconnected with his first cousin's son, Dad grew to appreciate family history. He saw that it wasn't just a bunch of begats and trying to find famous or infamous ancestors or relatives. Dad realized that family history is about the people, about their lives and about their legacies.

Dad was a research chemist, and he passed along many of the techniques of research to me, and I use them. I take notes. I know to verify information that others give me. I think about the whats, the whys and the hows. I make notes of where I found books, and where I found information. I got historical maps and saw how the state and county boundaries changed, and that solved some very puzzling moves by some of my ancestors.

Thank you for all that you taught me, Dad. You may have thought that you were trying to teach me in vain. I hope you see that I did listen and despite my trying not to some times, I did learn.

So, in your honor, I'm going to go and try to uproot some more ancestors on your side of the family tree. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Family is family, no matter how distant

I had lunch with two of my maternal grandmother's first cousin Myrtle's great granddaughters and one of her great great granddaughters. It's the first time we met. And I owe it all to my grandmother. How I wish she had been there so I could have seen her expression when she first saw them. I knew they were related to us in a heartbeat!

It always amazes me how cousins, third and fourth cousins, can look so much alike or have similar mannerisms. I felt right at home with Pat, Tina and Emily. It was almost as if I'd known them all of my life.

As we visited and shared stories, I couldn't help but notice Pat pursing her lips, just like my grandmother, her daughters, her great niece Barb and yes, even I do.

I got so tickled at Emily when she rolled her eyes at her Mom (Tina), and then quickly looked down in total innocence. I've seen my Mom and Aunt Ethel do that to my grandmother. I know I did it to my Mom and so did Cindy. I see others roll their eyes, but they don't usually drop their eyes to the floor right afterwards.

And when we were leaving, Pat went over to talk to one of her friends. She had her back to us, and if I hadn't known that my Mom wasn't there, I would have sworn she was. Pat's stance and the way she moved her head and hands when she talked to her friends was 100% Mom.

I've made progress on the promise I made to my grandmother oh so many years ago to reconnect with her father's family. I know they lost touch when he moved away and that she wished she had known her first cousins.

She set me out on this quest, and I thank her for that. I wish she were here so I could thank her in person. I know in my heart that she is following my journey from the other side. I'm not sure why she asked me, out of all of her grandchildren to do this. Maybe she asked the others, and they either don't remember or aren't that interested. Who knows? Well, grandmother knows. I know that a couple of my cousins are interested and do research once in a while. Now if they would only share their information instead of telling me "Oh, I already knew that." when I send them updates on my research! Grr!

Maybe she knew that out of all of her grandchildren, I would be the one who needed to connect with family, even distant cousins. Maybe she knew that I would take her request seriously and keep chipping away at the brick walls until I could find a loose brick that would lead to a long hidden document or photograph that gave me another clue in my quest to reconnect with my great grandfather's family.

Speaking of which, it's time for me to close. I'd love to hear your stories of reconnecting with long lost relatives.

And now, I'm off to continue uprooting the family tree!