I recently saw a post from an adopted family member. (I “adopt” all my genealogy found friends and relatives.) She was remembering her sister’s passing and offered her peace. I commented that had it not been for her sister’s passing, I would never have found my friend.
If you have been watching “Who Do You Think You Are” and are new to genealogy, you may recognize the serendipitous nature of the chain of events we all create. For my genealogy long time friends, you see it every day in your research. One thing always leads to another and informs not only our minds but our hearts as well.
It was an Ohio database that five years ago published my mother’s passing. It was her death certificate that led me to her business partner in California. It was a friendly librarian in Tuscawaras County, Ohio, that led me to Shirley’s (my birth mother’s) obit. Shirley’s obit started a search for her friends and family that brought me to Bobbie. It was Bobbie’s obit that brought me to her sister, Kel, who knew my mother.
The same mother that I lost at age 4 or 5, spent 20 years getting to know Kel. From Kel I learned Shirley thought I had died as a child and so never thought to find me. It taught me valuable lessons as a genealogist. Don’t believe what you hear. And never give up.
I tell this to my classes and I see them nod their heads. I know. It’s hard not to wonder if we are beating our heads against the wall for nothing. We get “the look” – the one that says, why in the world do you bother with dead people?
My answer is, they aren’t really dead- their legacy lives on in me, in you. Ask Rosie O’Donnell. Ask Tim McGraw what they learned. It was not so much about their ancestors but about themselves.
Every person in my circle tells me more about myself, why I am, who I am, what I’ve brought with me. I have in me what Shirley loved-reading, art, the smell and feel of water rushing in a stream or the waves rolling in the ocean. I have more than her hands or her genes…I have some of her spirit. That could have only been recovered by doing this work that I love.