Monday, March 7, 2011

Family History Can Pass Away Too

When I married my husband he did not know very much about his family history or his ancestors. Both of his parents and a younger brother had already passed on years ago, and his remaining two sisters (an older half-sister and a younger sister) lived far away in other states.

We had our first child together, a girl, in 2007. With my entire immediate and extended family living on the West Coast and only remnants left of my husband's family, I found it increasingly important that we trace Max's* family tree as best we could. Being a little older when our little LoveBug was born I was worried about her being left alone in this world, feeling like a cork bobbing on the ocean, without a clue as to who her family was or where she came from.

This past summer Max's half-sister also passed away. Max and Loretta shared the same father and I was hoping to find information that would help me trace Max's paternal line. Going through her collection of papers created more questions than they answered. With her knowledge of the family history passing away with her, it also made it all the more urgent to piece together his family tree before any more precious family history is lost.

Loretta had three large photo albums full of pictures spanning about 30 years from the mid-1930s until the early 1960s. Very few of the pictures were labeled making identification almost impossible. To know that within all of those old black and white photos are pictures of family members that have long since passed on but will continue to remain nameless is extremely frustrating.

There isn't much in the way of documentation either but I did come across a copy of a marriage bond between their father and Loretta's mother in Kentucky, 1926; copies of death certificates for both their father and Loretta's mother and burial information for Loretta's mother in Kentucky, 1945; a certificate of birth and an adoption document for Loretta's older brother (also Max's half-brother) from 1929. For a genealogist these documents are as precious as rare jewels for the clues they contain. Hopefully they will lead to other documents, more clues and new information.

I can't help but to grieve not only Loretta's passing but also the loss of all of the information she had within her. I grieve for the lost opportunities of sitting around her table, looking through the photos and listening to her stories. Of being able to write down names, dates and places and recording as much of her history as possible. Of not being able to share it with our own children who share some of the same bloodline as Loretta. There are so many questions that will never be answered.

With Loretta's passing, we lost so much more than Loretta. We lost the last connection to the early life of their father. We will never get that connection, or Loretta, back.

~ Niecey

* names have been changed

1 comment:

  1. You know, I'd never thought about that, but it is so true that once a person has passed, so has their story in a sense. BTW, your little lovebug will never be bobbing alone like a cork in the sea. We love you all so much!