True Stories – Finding My Family
I was puttering around at home when I heard my inner voice.
“Go to Ancestry.com, go to Ancestry.com.”
Although the voice was insistent, I ignored it. But the nudges continued as I attempted to go about my day. Clearly this voice would not give up until I gave it my full attention.
I’d heard this voice before on several notable occasions in my life. I can’t call it up at will, though I’ve often wished I could. It is a non-gender, calm, clear voice without emotion, delivering short messages of guidance.
Once, when I was alone on an elevator heading up to work, feeling exhausted and distraught during the early stages of a divorce, I thought, “How will I ever make it alone? I’m so lonely….” The voice surprised me with, “You always have yourself.” Startled and looking around the elevator for the source of these words, I was reminded of how much strength I have. That powerful thought healed something in me in that moment, and it has stayed with me since.
I went online to Ancestry.com. Peeking into a bulletin board devoted to my family name, I saw a request seeking family information that seemed to refer to my late father. It was puzzling though, because the name was slightly different, but it was my father’s actual birthdate. I answered the posting and that is how I met my father’s first wife and her family, including my half-brother, whom I had not met in person and didn’t know existed until long after I had become an adult. I didn’t know my father had changed his name.
My meeting with Helen shifted something fundamental in my life. Suddenly, without realizing the important healing it would bring, I had embarked on a genealogical treasure hunt. In e-mails to Helen I shared a few stories, a few clues my father had dropped along the way, and she took the ball and ran with it. My ancestors began to appear in Helen’s e-mails, and that was the beginning of something vital for me: a connection to my roots.
I had grown up feeling I didn’t belong to any community. I felt like I had no foundation. When asked where my hometown was, I felt a vague unacknowledged sadness and a bit of shame. My father was in the military and my family moved frequently. Our isolated nuclear family, which consisted of my parents, my two brothers and me, had little exposure to extended relatives, and I had no concept that family was so important.
My father grew up without parents on the streets of Boston, a child of many foster homes. He was listed as a boarder at the age of five in the 1930 United States census. He had been abandoned by his parents, like many children of the Great Depression, and never felt the safety of trust again. He was a warrior and a survivor.
My mother was a refugee from Silesia at the end of World War II, from a region that was German and then became Polish after the war. One night in the final months of the war my Polish grandmother fled from the Russians with her five children. My mother was nine years old. After many months of danger, abuse, and starvation, they found their way to Bavaria, where the family lived for seven years in one room in what was left of a home that had been bombed. My mother is a survivor, too. When she left Germany with my father, a U.S. serviceman, she left her family behind.
I had no idea old family wounds were a part of my story, but my truth is I grew up without grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in my life, and it was a loss, even though we had lovely Christmas boxes from my grandparents in Germany, filled to the brim with delicious chocolates and gingerbread, and occasional loving visits. To this day chocolate feels like love to me.
Helen uncovered interesting history on my father’s side. We learned my grandmother was most likely part of the Mi’kmaq First Nations people of Nova Scotia, and that I had two generations of great-grandparents who were missionaries in India, running a home for people with leprosy. I began to see the adventure and courage in my lineage instead of the weaknesses.
The distractions of life unfolded after my initial meeting with Helen, and genealogy was put away for a while. I was grateful to have had the chance to meet Helen and to be a long-distance member of her loving family. Not longer after, I met my lovely niece.
Then, in 2007, I had a dream: I am sitting on a park bench in a forested place underneath an illuminated old-fashioned streetlight. Sitting next to me is a handsome young man who is my brother. He is supposed to be one of the brothers I grew up with, the one who was named after my grandfather, but it isn’t his face. We are discussing what we would need to do to have a healthy relationship. He looks exotic, wearing dangly diamond earrings and he has glossy black hair and a rich olive complexion, perhaps like a person from South Asia.
As I woke, a voice prompted me to look up my paternal grandfather’s name on Google. A group photo of a high school football team from 1913 appeared on the screen. One of these players was my grandfather, a freshman in high school. As I looked at the faces, I burst into tears as I recognized the very face I had dreamed. I dreamed my grandfather’s face without ever seeing an image of him. The emotion I felt was remarkable.
This propelled a new surge of genealogical research. I found stories of my missionary relatives and learned my grandfather was born in India. I learned I have three generations of ancestors who lived in India. Some were born there and some died there, and several spent all of their adult lives in service to the poorest and most ill. I found my great-great-aunt, who was the first woman doctor in her region in the Himalayan foothills. She started a hospital for women that is still in service today. My sense of belonging and family pride healed the more I learned about my distant family.
Finally, during Christmas of 2011, I met my brother for the first time, and in 2014 I met my sister-in-law. The blessing of family continues with the birth of my grandniece this year. I never expected to know and love this part of my family, and never would have if I hadn’t listened to a persistent voice and paid attention to a dream.
J. E. C.
By bjuditeb on 2017-07-11 14:36:17
Vampire Mansion: A Linda Hyde Adventure
is a newly released hidden object game. The game features many scenes
you are to search through and an intriguing story that unfolds right
In Vampire Mansion: A Linda Hyde Adventure
you play as Linda Hyde that accidentally gets involved into some
mysterious adventure. She meets Augustine and receives a task from him
to find some ancient books since she is very good at things like that.
agrees to help without knowing too much either about the books or about
this Augustine. Later as she travels and searches for the books, she
find out more what it is all about.
game will please the hidden object genre fans. You do get some
inventory that can be used somewhere along the way, but it is a really
small of teh general gameplay.
for the items on the list isn’t too challenging. Though sometimes it
does get too confusing. Those levels differ in the types of searches.
Sometimes you are to collect a certain number of same items, sometimes
you are to take pictures of items on the list.
is not all that is waiting for you in this game. You will also play
mini-games. Those are random puzzles, some of which were not too clear
for me, but maybe you will do better at those.