Saturday morning I woke up with no plan for the day. This turned into a morning spent on family history work. I’ve been working on my father’s side of the family and brought him some census records to see if we could figure out which of these people sharing our last name actually were related to us. As he was filling in the gaps, my father mentioned that he used to have a family bible.
So we tore the basement apart looking for my grandmother’s trunk thinking the bible might be in there – never found the trunk, so we’ll come back to that (we never throw anything away and are certain the trunk is around somewhere or at least the contents must be). But we did find my grandmother’s suitcase, containing some of her belongings and a ton of pictures.
I spent hours looking through them all, realizing there was much more to my family’s story than I ever even thought there might be. For example, I had never known that my parents went back to school together for Masters Degrees – my mother’s in Nursing, my father’s in Math (a second Master’s for him – he also has an MBA). I laughed at some of the old letters, and definitely laughed at some of the pictures – my father, age 2, overalls with no shirt and a hat as big as him.
Of course there were the emotional moments. I found evidence of pieces of our family’s past that we just don’t discuss. There may always be questions I’m afraid to ask my parents. Some parts of the past will be left there, and I may be happier just letting that happen. But there were plenty of good emotional moments too.
Toward the end I came across a notepad. The first page held a poem – I’m not sure if my grandmother wrote it, or if she just liked it and wrote it down.
Though my heart had been full through the whole exploration process, I was completely unprepared for the moment when I found that hymn scrawled in her dear handwriting. And though I knew it was important to go through all these things and sort out the past, in that moment I realized how much of an impact this would have on me.
I discovered yesterday that my beautiful grandmother and I are so much alike. When she died I was very young, and though we had met I have no memories of her. What I found most important about yesterday was that I was able to feel the love that she had for me – something I had never even considered before now. Maybe it sounds silly that I wouldn’t think she loved me, but it truly never crossed my mind that she would have had any feelings about me. Now I know that she did.
I’m really looking forward to the next time I get a chance to sit down and work on the family tree. My mother’s cousin has done a lot of that research for her side of the family and she’s agreed to send it to me so I’m excited to see that. For now though I have the huge task of scanning all the pictures I’ve come across so far. As soon as I get them scanned I promise to share the good ones (like that one of my father, cause if you know him…well, even if you don’t, trust me, you want to see it).