Best Be Ready for Disturbing Results From Geneaology Research…
Hoping to unearth some surprised when you begin researching your family tree? Be careful what you wish for! As you might expect in geneaology research, surprises can be around every turn. But what if it’s your family? And what if the surprises aren’t what you’d expected – or hoped – to hear?
The commercials for popular geneaology programs sound so intriguing…all you have to do is start looking, they say. Well, that’s what I did. What I found was a little harder to swallow than I had ever expected.
For much of my time growing up, my parents, my two sisters, brother and myself lived with my grandfather. My father was an alcoholic who couldn’t hold a job. He tended to be violent and abusive at times. Often I wondered why my mother didn’t just leave, but she always said she had no family with the exception of one sister from whom she was estranged. She had been enrolled in a school in Georgia when her mother died and her father moved to Washington with his new wife. She never saw him again. Whenever I asked her why she didn’t contact her sister, the answers were noncommital and evasive. Because we were so isolated and had no relatives, it always disturbed me…maybe I had cousins somewhere. Maybe we could all go and live with them and escape.
My mother moved from Savannah, Georgia to New York City when she met and married my father. His parents had a home on Lake George where they ran a sort of guest house, where people would come from the city to stay for a summer visit. They had a large boat that could hold 18 people, canoes, rowboats and small motorboats. My grandmother grew berries and grapes, pears, plums, and cherry trees on their lakeshore property. By the time I came along, things were definitely on the downward slide. The rest is just details, but by the time I was 16, both grandparents had died, my father had disappeared back to the city somewhere, and my mother had died of cancer at the age of 50.
Fast forward years later, I had a family of my own and the curiosity never left me. I made several cursory attempts for inforamtion, made lots of phone calls and wrote some letters, but could never find any information. Once computers became search-friendly, I started again in earnest. I used a genealogy business when they were in an earlier stage, and actually got some information. Over time I kept it up , and finally was contacted by a woman who had seen my name and my searches. Turns out, we were indeed related.
She revealed to me that not only did my mother had a sister, but she had a huge family – something like 8 aunts and uncles, cousins and family crawling out of the woodwork.
The feelings I had as this situation unfolded cannot be described. Joy to learn that there was indeed a family, that we weren’t “apart”, and a growing anger and dismay that access to what might have been a loving family experience had been denied us.
I finally found that my mother’s sister did have one child…I actually had a cousin who has a family of his own! We spoke by phone and it was a bittersweet experience for me. It did, however, make me more aware of how incredibly lucky I have been to have a close family, children and grandchildren in my own life. History does not have to repeat itself, and my family tree is full and green and blooming.
So, it is true…you can get some disturbing results from a geneaology search! Just remember if you decide to research your family, be careful what you wish for…you just might find it!