Another Spring has come or has it? It was below freezing this morning with frost on the car’s window. Every year, that stupid groundhog predicts how long winter will last and I don’t know about anyone else, but who really cares. It’s a crap shoot! Wasn’t that groundhog dropped on it’s head last year by the Mayor of New York? I’m certainly not betting the house on his prediction. Why is the groundhog charade still happening anyway? Does anyone in their right mind really believe a groundhog? Or should we believe the weather forecasters who have the only job that allows you to be correct whenever you are.
What did occur today was my new neighbor was outside raking and doing yard work. Hopefully, another winter has passed but then I thought, should I really believe that Spring is here? Haven’t I been fooled before? There I stood thinking; first the groundhog, the news people and this lady and I know it is all a ruse to suck you in when boom, a blast of winter comes barreling back in with a foot of snow covering all those pretty crocuses! And instead of joining the masses, I made my own prediction, I think I will need to stay inside and check my email.
Do you recall the family stories that your parents & grandparents shared with you? You know the ones that were passed down from generation to generation. Here’s a question, what did they sugarcoat or neglect to tell?
We have all experienced the abrupt silence when a child unexpectedly entered the room. You realized the discussion changed simply by their awkwardness, as well as in the tone and pitch of their voices. Once you left, the sound of their laughter signaled their relief that they got away with something. Did they wonder what part of the conversation you might have heard?
Now that you are an adult, would you like to know if there were any forgotten family stories or secrets? Is it possible that you were never told any as a child or just don’t remember them?
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A short time ago, the cell rang and my son’s name pops up, “Mom, I’ve just been in a car accident.” he said, voice quivering. “Are you okay?” I ask. “I’m fine, but I don’t know what happened.” I can hear his panic, which causes my own heart to race and I know what he needs right now.
Time for my Mom tone to kick in, “Listen, take a breath and calm down.” “Is anyone hurt?” I ask this question, hoping and praying that his answer will be no. “Ma, everyone is fine! But, I don’t know where my registration or insurance stuff is,” his breath becoming more rapid. “There are copies of both here, if you want I’ll take pictures and send to your cell.” The relieved answer is “Yes.” “And Mom, I’m sorry! Gotta go, the police are here.”
As I hang up the phone, tears begin to fall from my eyes. He is my only child and the thought that he was physically capable to call, has shaken me to my core. He worries that I am angry and disappointed. But what he doesn’t realize is that without him, my life would cease to have meaning.
So, the car will need to be repaired and insurance rates will increase, but what he has no clue about is I’m not devastated by it. His well being is more important than anything else in my world.
Another situation, when I hear my own mother’s voice, “I don’t care how old you are, you will always be my baby.” Just wish she was still alive, because I could sure use to hear her Mom’s tone right about now.
Trying to figure out where my vocabulary went? Wonder how many others are experiencing brain void?
Out of blue, I will be in the midst of typing or speaking and can’t remember a word. It’s the weirdest feeling, as if it’s inside playing hide and seek with me. Sometimes, I am in the middle of a sentence can see the word but can’t say or type it. Frustrating is a nice way to put it without using foul language. Why are those words NEVER missing? Actually, they are always waiting in the front of the line.
Age plays games with you! First, you forget what you went into a room for, so you have to stand for a couple of seconds to recall it.
Next, in order to remember, you have to physically leave the room, go back to the place where you were to remember what you were looking for and boom there it is.
Now, you have to write it down before you do anything.
I do believe that old age has upped it’s game.
One of my first heart breaks happened forty-nine years ago today. The shocking report that Paul McCartney announces his decision to quit The Beatles can still bring tears to my eyes. Then, it could almost be compared to losing a family member, someone who had brought such joy into your life. Do you remember how you felt when you heard the news?
In my experience, I have found that every family has something in their past that has been kept hidden. Between research and the common use of DNA in genealogy, the most unusual information can be discovered. And depending on the situation, it could be a wonderful surprise, a shocking story or a life changing event.
Ancestry has done an excellent job in advertising to entice people to take DNA tests to find their ethnicity. In my business, DNA is a great tool to connect the genealogical and scientific worlds and to guarantee research is correct. I am a huge proponent of the utilization of DNA in cases ONLY when a client is fully aware of the possible results.
With my clients, my first question to them is, “What is it you want to know about your family history, and what don’t you want to know?” “Because, every family has skeletons in the closet, and they are just waiting for someone to open that door.” These statements are made based on prior discoveries and uncomfortable conversations after the fact.
One fulfilling aspect of my business with the involvement of DNA is to make a biological connection between family members. I am proud of these successful endeavors and the bond that I’ve formed with these special people. Without a doubt, it is the most rewarding part of family history.
All I wish for any of my clients is a great experience, and for them to be informed and know the consequences of their actions. If you are looking to fill in any gaps in your family history, contact me at carolyounggenealogy.com.
Well I am approaching 60! I can not believe I just typed it. And, it sounds worse when you say it, but inside I don’t really feel that old. The same thoughts that I had when I was in my 20’s are not that far from how I feel today. My feelings and sense of humor are just as warped and immature. Oh no, maybe I will never grow up. How frightening!
One of the ways I recognize that I am aging is when I pull up to a light and look at the car next to me and think, “Hey, should that twelve year old be driving?” Or the couple with a toddler in the food store, who can’t possibly be the parents, because they look like teenagers. Why do they look so young? Does your brain develop an age blocker after you turn 50?
And I can’t seem to grasp the age of my own child. Why is it so difficult to see your child as an adult? In my heart, I realize that he’s graduated college, has a great job and lives in his own apartment. However, he appears at my house and I see the little boy enter and become Mommy. The son has tried to let me down easy, “Mom, I hate to break this to you but I’m 31.” Is the age blocker part of this situation as well?
His age sends my brain into overdrive, “What?” “How is that possible?” “Where did the years go?” I remember bringing him home from the hospital and the many sleepless nights. The thoughts of “will he still be using his pacifier or wearing a diaper as he walks down the aisle?” Those years that you prayed for the night to come just so you could have some down time. What I would give for some of those days back again!
Lately, my mother’s words of wisdom come to mind so often, I can hear her say, “Let him be little for as long as possible, because he’ll grow up before you know it.”and the “Don’t wish your life away” and the my favorite, “I don’t care how old you are, you will always be my baby!” So, if in your life, you are in that Mom phase, take my mother’s advice, because truer words were never spoken.
And if you are on the other side of the parenthood pathway, will the brain age blocker work on my own age too?
I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but Spring always makes me feel like it is time to purge my house. Maybe it is the season when you first open up your windows? More likely, it has to do with the fact that the wind has blown my junk all over the room.
Is this Mother Nature’s way to make me feel guilty for my laziness during the winter months? Because if this is the case, you have accomplished your mission, Mother! Today, I started the hibernation pile. It consists of tax related paperwork, the “I have no idea why I kept it” junk mail and my least favorite, “this needs to be filed, but I’m too tired to do it.”
Believe it or not, I actually surprised myself and threw out the unnecessary hoard and filed the rest. My two garbage cans in the office were not happy and the filing cabinet was feeling a little stuffed, but overall a very productive day.
The earlier blogs in this story have dealt with an unusual discovery and fate. This blog tells how two strangers became family walking in their ancestors footsteps.
With the crazy phone calls to our relatives over, we walked down the path toward the cemetery. I stopped and asked, “Umm, you’re not afraid of the dead, are you?” “I’m Irish” with a slight smirk was his reply. Brendan was preoccupied with the headstones and suddenly unable to speak. Now I thought, uh oh, maybe this wasn’t a good idea. When he said, “the names are the same.” Followed by, “we have matching headstones in our church cemetery, not a few of the stones but all of them.” His pace quickened as he shouted each name out loud. At that moment, I learned if there is a GH together in an Irish surname, the G is silent and it makes an Ha sound. Also that my family had been mispronouncing our family name for my entire life.
His excitement was contagious and we agreed that it was possible that the people in his small town in Ireland had emigrated to mine in America. He looked at me and said, “I can hear them telling me it, so when I get back to Ireland…” So engrossed in the conversation, we almost missed his great uncle’s gravestone. Brendan took a couple of paces and lovingly touched the stone. Finally, the mission was over, he had found his father’s uncle. Immediately, he knelt down and wrapped his arm around the monument and smiled and asked “Can you take my picture?” I had been coming to the cemetery since I was a little girl, and never had anyone asked me to take a photo, nor had I ever been in a photo with a headstone. After we left the cemetery, neither of those statements were true any longer.
Out of the cemetery we walked, made a quick right and continued down the road. At the first intersection, I said “let’s take this street on the right.” He followed while he informed me of his plan to research the relationship between the two cemeteries and possibly write a book. “A left at the next block and the second house on the left will be your uncle’s house,” I said randomly. Again, he was filled with awe that we had traveled the same path his uncle must have every time he went to church. Brendan stared at the home but didn’t want me to knock or ask if we could look inside. I found it odd, he never took a photograph of the house because he took many at the cemetery, until he said, “You’re not allowed to do that in Ireland without permission.”
Next stop on our schedule was the police station, I wanted Brendan to see where his uncle had worked for 30 years. In the station, sitting behind the glass partition was the desk sergeant on duty whom I recognized from our school days. My heart began to pound when I revealed that the sergeant was also the great grandson of Brendan’s uncles partner in the police department. Can you guess what I thought, “What are the chances?”
When I whispered to the sergeant the identity of man with the Irish brogue, he called for someone to cover his desk. Introduced himself and proceeded to tell Brendan a few stories that he was told growing up about the partner’s antics. The station got busy and he needed to return to duty, but they shook hands with Brendan beaming from ear to ear in the photograph. Outside he confided his disappointment, he had hoped to return to Ireland with wild stories of his police officer uncles’ escapes.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I know my father would have loved today.” he said and I felt a pang of sadness for him. Not knowing how to respond, I said, “Let’s get something to eat.” Once seated, his answer to a waitress about drinks caused the entire place to buzz. I felt like I was going to scream, if one more person asked, “Are you from Ireland?” Brendan loved the attention and felt a little like a celebrity.
Once the meal arrived, we ate and wondered if our ancestors were with us the entire time. No longer were words needed between us and I knew this one day had changed both of us forever. Before tea, he gave me a small token of his appreciation, a beautiful Certificate of Irish Heritage framed with both my great grandfather’s names inscribed. I was extremely touched by his thoughtfulness and generosity.
I had also thought ahead and bought a present for him. It was a hard cover book with photos of my great grandfather, his sister and their children. Touched by the gesture, he removed his father’s photograph from his wallet and compared all for a family resemblance. When I removed another item, he said with a hint of embarrassment, “I brought you one thing and here you give me two.” “Just open it,” I replied. As he unwrapped the paper, there sat two photographs, the first was his great uncle in a dressed blue police uniform. I could see the pride in his eyes, but it was the second picture which caused a stir that I didn’t fully comprehend.
“Oh my goodness?” he said quietly at first and repeated it over louder and louder. “Do you know what this means.” I truly did not get the significance and said to him, “Not really. But in the photograph is your uncle in uniform next to John F. Kennedy during his 1960 Senatorial Campaign in the town parade.”
He looked me straight in the eye and announced, “I am going to be famous when I show this in Ireland.” I asked, “Why would you be famous?” He replied, “Are you kidding me? Because my uncle protected the first Irish American President of the United States of America, and I have the picture to prove it.” Next in unison said, “What are the chances?”
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Short recap: While trying to help a stranger from Ireland locate what happened to his great uncle after he immigrated to the United States, I discover we are related.
My first thought was, how do I send Brendan (the Irish man) this information and not sound like a complete nutcase? The email said, “Brendan, great news! Enlarged your uncle’s passenger list and now can read his actual destination in New Jersey. Also, he planned to live his half sister,” and I pressed send. He responded immediately, excited and astonished that his dad had not looked closer at the passenger list. The second email, “I know that woman’s name, she was my great grandfather’s sister.” “You understand this means your great uncle was the half brother of my great grandfather.”
What occurred next was a whirlwind of activity between us. I could feel Brendan’s sense of peace that he had fulfilled his father’s wish. He learned where the uncle settled, confirmed he had been a police officer and lived a good life in America, I felt great for him. Inside I wondered, how could this police officer have lived in my hometown and no one EVER mentioned that we were related? Then, I remember something my mother had said to me years ago, “all the Irish in this town are somehow related.” What are the chances?
About two months later, I receive an email from Brendan to inform me that he had a business trip to Seattle the next week. He wanted to take a side trip to New Jersey and wondered if I would be available. I didn’t even think before I replied, “Yes, let me know when you will be here.” I suggested that we meet in front of the Catholic Church where our ancestors had worshiped.
Beyond excitement was how I felt. However, friends and family voiced loudly, “Are you crazy?” “So you are going to meet a complete stranger that you talk to on the computer?” “What happens if this guy made the whole thing up?” There was a little voice in my head that kept telling me it would be fine.
While I waited in my car for Brendan, my cell rang and a voice stated, “This is the town’s police department. We heard that you are to meet someone, hit redial and a car will appear within five seconds.” I responded, “Thanks, will do.” Now I began to get nervous, what if my intuition was incorrect. Preoccupied, I didn’t notice a car had pulled in front of me until I saw the door begin to open.
In the same moment, we got out of our vehicles looked at one another and I knew deep in my soul, he is my family. The handshake became a hug and a flood of chatter ensued between us. I had done quite a bit of research and planned the entire day for us. We would begin in the churches rectory to let them know we would be wandering around the cemetery.
As we walked into the cemetery, my sister called my cell, “Is he there?” “Are you okay?” I replied, “Yes, he is and yes, I am.” I hung up, embarrassed by what he heard and tried to explain. He smiled, dialed a number on his cell and handed me it. On the other end was a woman’s voice who said in an Irish brogue, “Hello, this is Brendan’s wife and I was concerned that he was meeting a stranger.” “This has been difficult for us so far away, but he knew in his heart that it would be fine.” I looked into his eyes and said to his wife, “I understand completely and we are both fine.”
We looked at each other and said, “What are the chances?”
What Are the Chances, Part III will give our experience within the town.
This will be the first in a series of my genealogical research stories.
As I previously disclosed in an earlier post, I have been involved in Genealogy for almost two decades. This story is the one that seems to touch closest to my heart. It occurred almost fifteen years ago and it still can bring me to tears.
The world of Genealogy is immense and I am still in awe with it’s camaraderie. Generally, they are a group of people who truly want to help others locate their ancestry. And within a short period of time, you begin to develop relationships with complete strangers who eventually become friends. One grows to feel as though you have known each other forever.
When I began, Ancestry had no hints or shaking leaves. It was a lot of searching through records, one by one trying to find that specific family member. I remember message boards for surnames, places or general information where I wrote a post looking for information on my great grandfather. He had come from Ireland in the late 1800’s and relatives had given me a town’s name where they thought he had lived. Each night, I would look and hope for an answer but none ever came.
One evening, a post from an Irish man looking for his long lost uncle caught my eye. Apparently, his father’s favorite uncle had left Ireland in the 1900’s but they lost contact once he arrived in the United States. His father had been searching over thirty years for his uncle and he had recently passed away. Now, the son was taking up this quest as a promise made to his dying father. He was told that the uncle’s destination was New Jersey and he might have been in law enforcement. The post seemed to call me, “You’re from New Jersey! Why not help this guy?”
With much of my own Ancestry completed, I decided to volunteer my services to this Irish man, Brendan and attempt to locate any records in the United States. What I soon discovered was his father had accrued an arsenal of information but he had hit a brick wall. Pleasantries were over quickly and soon we were down to business. A dynamic duo emailing with new sources and records on a daily basis.
Finally late one evening, I began to really look at the passenger list of the uncle’s immigration to the United States. Lo and behold, there in almost illegible writing was the destination, a town in New Jersey. So excited to discover that the town was right next to where I had grown up and lived my entire life. And in the next column it listed the name of who you were going to live with, there so faintly was the name of my great grandfather’s sister married name. Shocked, is how I felt next because in extremely small writing was their relationship, half sister. What are the chances?
The story doesn’t end there!
Everyone remembers the horrific words said when your mother dies. My nightmare passed its twenty year mark in October. I can still recall every single thing that happened that night.
Within months of her death, I realized that no longer had our family history at my fingertips. I decided to join the Ancestry website to fill in some answers to questions that I had longed to know. My mother was brutally honest, but there were times when I wondered is she not telling me something.
What I discovered was a world of research and if I am totally honest, I absolutely love. The quest to find some buried secret or record has given me excitement beyond my wildest imagination. In my opinion, it is the most addictive hobby to embark on because there is new data released all the time.
Everyone in the family thinks you’re crazy until their child’s dreaded school assignment, the family tree. You are the first person they call and the extra credit behind that A plus, naturalization, military records with Civil War photographs cause a stir within a history teacher’s heart.
I have completed my genealogy, along with most of our friends and decided to share my abilities with those that are looking to find their own family’s story. If you are interested, check out my website and let’s work together.