It’s wild to think it was just about a year ago when my cousin Loree and I decided we were finally going to research our big family secret. We were having dinner at a little italian restaurant after my daughters performance as “Belle” in Beauty and the Beast. My mom was there too, and she thought we should do it - find her half brother! She had never met him and was not even supposed to know he existed. Loree and I had been fascinated by this secret for years and with my mom on board - we took off running.
We had a bit of info to help us get started thanks to my aunt Judith. But Loree and I not only wanted to find him, we wanted to actually make contact, maybe even meet him and/or his family. I mean these are blood relatives of ours! Yet we were sensitive to the fact that the son grandma Ruth left behind in New York over 70 years ago, might have grown up thinking someone else was his biological mother. Is it right to disrupt someone’s life with a phone call? We couldn’t make that decision if we didn’t at least search we decided, and once we had additional information we could determine whether to make contact or not.
A few days later I found time to sit down to see what I could find. Minutes turned into hours and hours to days, the obsession had begun. I didn’t leave the house and barely remembered I had children for the next week. My husband would come home from work and find me in the same spot as when he left that morning: on my computer, still in my pjs, last night’s dishes still in the sink. I had diagrams on a white board, silhouette heads posted on the wall with arrows going every which way, and lots of notes. He looked frightened for my well being and made a reference to Carrie Mathison from Homeland. I was not offended, Carrie rocks. I attempted to share with him my scattered train of thoughts, and hypothesis’ and one night when I broke down thinking I was at a dead end, he encouraged me to keep going, after we ordered pizza though. On February 15th I sent an email to Loree saying “I feel fairly confident I have found the son from grandma Ruth’s first marriage.” I went on to say that I felt even more confident that he and/or his family, were aware that Ruth was his mother. Oh and he’s alive, living in New York with his second wife, has three daughters, and I have a working phone number for him. It’s not stalking, I promise - it’s research!
Wow, a year. This was my profound reflection the other day when I received an email from Ancestry letting me know it was almost time to renew my membership. It blows my mind when I think back on all that we have discovered. How much more there is to this story than we thought, how this secret and search, impacts many lives, in all different ways. My feelings towards my grandmother have flipped-flopped hundreds of times in the past twelve months. Strong feelings too, not just surprise, or disappointment, or wow - who knew. I’m talking shock, loathing, heartbreak, “was this a big mistake?” type of feelings, and even shame. In fact, I’m not sure I have processed it all enough to to write a reflection. Certainly not a profound, conclusive, one year later type of reflection. At least about Ruth. But unlike this time last year, I sit here showered, with no dirty dishes in the sink, typing on a website of my research business, feeling enormously grateful, and maybe even a tiny bit proud. Not because of the secrets uncovered, or questions answered but with what the process has brought about, amazing new family, re-connecting with family I (we) had been missing, and for me, that supersedes all else in this story.
So as my newly discovered family would say Ciao 2018!