My step into genealogy was cautious, but I was drawn in and now I look back over these last years and the binders of photos and documents produced. The many kindnesses of strangers in offering research data and suggestions has amazed and encouraged me. I’ve also been introduced to a number of cousins of various degrees and learned so much along the way. But still, it is like having just the corners of the jigsaw puzzle of family. Those corners are a thrill, but so many pieces still lie scattered about – a photograph, a name, a reference in a letter or newspaper – they draw me farther into the story of family.
Sometimes the most intriguing fragment is a bit of oral history passed along and casually mentioned. I have learned that these bits can be deeply colored by the pain of the teller or what they heard or assumed of situations.
Facts and story blend. In a small pristine prayer book kept carefully in a wooden box, I found a scrap of water stained paper. Initials and dates lead to archives and records and hard facts are added to the record. The family history tells of a little boy raised in an orphanage. My only “photograph” is a hazy picture emerging in my mind of a distraught young father burying his young wife and then their second child and placing his very young son in the orphanage and while his family of parents and brothers move on to another state, he stays near to watch over this child. But I know the story doesn’t end there.
So I continued sifting through data, coming to dead ends, re-reading letters and clippings, searching records, just muddling along really and then one day a new thought came and I placed a phone call. We followed that with a trip to the cemetery office and while new pieces of the puzzle where scattered on my mind, we did find answers.
There was a certain rightness in finally standing at the grave site of this couple on Mother’s Day. Proverbs 31 speaks of the woman whose children rise and call her blessed. Standing there I smiled into the past and blessed Mary Ann. Dear Mary Ann, Our present was worth your short life. We honor you.