Thursday, July 2, 2009

In the beginning;

Back in the dim and distant past when I was a young man, my mother was heavily involved in Genealogical Research. Sometimes she would drag me along on her research trips to find overgrown country cemeteries, lavender smelling old ladies in big old houses, and trips to musty sections of libraries. I usually went kicking and screaming but she didn’t like to go alone. She especially didn’t like to go to cemeteries alone. She had a friend, Helen, who had had a dream about a horrible experience in a cemetery and she had convinced mom not go to cemeteries alone.

My mother’s people included Morris’, Goodspeeds, Harrolds, Cranes, Bradds, and Littles. My dad’s family was a very colorful collection of characters including Tollivers, Kyres, Richards and Angels. My paternal Grandfather had emigrated from a Greek Island when he was sixteen, and at this time, we knew very little about his family. In fact, even to this day we still don’t know much more but I’ll cover that in a future post.

In late May or early June of 2001, Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The cancer was attacking the lining of her brain and the doctors told her she could opt for treatments that could prolong her life or she could accept her fate and die. After much prayer, counseling with her children, and her bishop, Mom decided to die. To understand this decision, you must know a little more about my Mother. She and my Dad were high school sweethearts. They had been married for 38 years when he died on Halloween evening, October 31, 1980. About a year before Mom died, she and I were talking and she told me not a day had gone by since Dad died that she had not missed him. Her firm faith in an afterlife had her looking forward to the day that she would leave this earth life and be reunited with him.

Anyway, as she lay in her hospital bed, she had each of us kids come one by one to her bedside to talk. In her discussion with me, she said she was appointing me her successor as our family historian. What could I do but agree to her request. At the time of this bequest, I was 58 and I have to tell you that I still had little or not interest in researching my family tree. I did enjoy learning about the family as Mom found information but that was all the involvement I wanted.

After her death, my sister and my sister-in-law packed up all of mom’s research notes, notebooks, computer programs, photographs, historical documents, and books. It took sixteen computer paper boxes to hold it all.
I was living in Florida at the time and so we packed the boxes in our van and took them home. They sat in storage for about three years. I had made an attempt to look at some of it, including letters that my Dad wrote to my Mom during World War II when he was in the Navy in the South Pacific. But I found it too difficult and emotional. So I put them away.

Then the time came when my wife said I needed to go through the boxes and at least get rid of the duplicate records and useless paper. She set up a Saturday when my sister and my brother and his wife and us to go through the boxes. I found it much easier to do in a group situation but it still wasn’t easy. But we got it down to about ten boxes which went back into storage.

Next time I will tell you how I became addicted to Family History Research and some of the things I found in those boxes…

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