Last night I stopped by my sister Jeanette’s place — she’s the eldest, I’m the second eldest — and helped with some Spring cleaning. We looked through a box, an old box, a box she probably hasn’t looked in for nearly 30 years, and unearthed a treasure of family history — photos; birth; baptismal and death records; elementary school class pictures and report cards. Our mother saved everything, created scrapbooks. In the family Bible there was hair from our first haircuts. The greatest thing though we discovered was the “book of memories” my mother created for Jeanette, in which she recorded all the important events of my sister’s life: her birth, her baptismal, her first word, “Da Da, and even what she enjoyed doing as a toddler — dancing. We had to laugh at this, because at 2 my sister was dancing, and she’s still dancing, and loves dancing! The most important part of this discovery though were the words my mother wrote for my sister, what she hoped for in my sister’s life.
My discovery was a scrapbook of first cards: birthday, baptismal and Christmas. (My mother even recorded the gifts that were given.”
These “discoveries” are very important to me. I have been tracing our family’s roots, and now I have pictures of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins — I had no pictures of them.
One of the most difficult things tracing our family’s roots is that my mother was the youngest of her siblings, having siblings 15, and 20 years older than her, so we are the youngest part of the family in our generation, and our parents died young, while we were young. For example, when my mother was a child she was already an aunt. My mother’s nephew, my first cousin, Roland, was my godfather. Our mother died when I was 17, my father when I was 21, so I never had “adult” conversations with them and didn’t mine family history and lore. Despite this, as I wrote about, I’ve traced our family roots back, on both maternal and paternal sides, 200 years.