Like many others, I made a few goals to accomplish this year, a few of them genealogy related and I’m happy to announce that I have made some breakthroughs.
From the time I worked on my first pedigree chart, one side of my family tree has always been blank, my paternal side. I knew my father and had interacted with his family, but after a fire destroyed my childhood home in Mechanicsville, I lost touch with them.
Fast-forward 20 years and into my library, walked my father who did not recognize me, nor me him. After being stopped by him to give me a card and reading his name, I started asking him questions and he answered them with the answers I sought. Lo and behold, there was my father, a man who I had not seen in 20+ years, standing in my library. Let’s just say that it was a very tearful day for me.
Once we started working to build a relationship (one filled with ups and downs, and many disappointments), I knew I needed to do one thing in particular, fill in the blanks on his side of the family. I have, since building my relationship with my dad, met two aunts who I didn’t know existed, learn of a younger brother who I didn’t know existed, and have spoken, directly and hopefully indirectly, with my 3 siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister. I learned I was the oldest grandchild due to the untimely death of my oldest cousin (RIP T.). My being the oldest grandchild is a tad bit funny especially since my dad is is the youngest and only boy of my grandmother’s 5 children.
So I have expressed to my dad and grandmother my desire to learn more about his side of the family. Now after 5 years, I have begun filling in the blanks. On a whim last night, I called my grandmother as I passed her home on my way home from work and asked if it was okay if I stopped by. In the car with me was my genealogy notebook for my recent ancestors (if that makes sense) and I took it in with me. I didn’t go there with the intention to talk genealogy because I have read and heard that the best way to get information from your family’s elders is to begin by establishing a relationship. So I was working on my relationship with my grandma, to learn more about her and my family.
So there I sat, having a conversation with my grandmother in her relatively new place and she starts talking about the family. I got the impression that she was willing to share and I showed her the notebook I brought with me and then the conversation began. My hand couldn’t move fast enough as she told me about her parents and the name of her father’s father, whose name became her nickname and more information about her sisters and grandmother. She was so open that she let me borrow a copy of her birth certificate and promised to look for funeral programs of her mother and others. I was so excited that I after I ate dinner with my husband, I spent the rest of the night (would have stayed past 1am up if I didn’t have to go to work the next day) and found my great grandparents and great-great grandparents on my paternal – maternal side. Now it’s time to fill in those blanks. Pedigree chart, here I come.