|Evelyn Himel Cross French, 1906-1988|
I get it now and I am so, so sorry.
How many days and nights did you sit at your beautiful antique dining room table (your mother-in-law's table), surrounded by stacks of papers and books as you searched and searched and searched for the Himels and Frenches and Crosses that fit in your family tree?
How many hours did you pore through those books? How many hours did you spend in every library within 100 miles searching for more?
And how many times did you finally hit a jackpot -- a name, a date, a birthplace, another mother, father, sister or brother -- and, nearly overcome with excitement, go to share it with someone ...
But no one was there?
Or they were, but they just didn't care?
Grandpa was in the den watching some ball game with his eyes closed. Mom was off taking a painting class. Rhett was at Spots. Jo Lee was already off raising her children. I was probably there with you, but more intent on pretending I was Barry Manilow on the piano (I wasn't) than on your latest find.
And I'm sorry.
Maybe you knew, though. Maybe you knew that I someday I would be the one to take all your boxes and binders home, go through it, become fascinated and carry on your legacy. Maybe I just picked it up by osmosis or something.
Because now I'm the one who has boxes (well, plastic bins) of books and keepsakes and census records and indexes and keepsakes and mementos that just can't be thrown away.
Now I'm the one who stays up until all hours of the morning searching and searching and searching...
Now I'm the one who gets overcome with excitement when I hit a jackpot. Like a few hours ago when I stumbled upon a signer of the Declaration of Independence who is a fourth cousin eight times removed!!!! Or a few weeks ago when I found a connection to The Mayflower. the Holy Grail for genealogists.
I was dying to tell someone!
And my husband was at a ball game.
And my teenager is, well, a teenager. And like me when I was her age, I didn't care. I made her pretend to be excited. (She really wasn't.)
I did get to share it on Facebook, though.
My mama would have been pretty excited for me -- more if it had been her ancestor too, but it was my dad's side.
But mama went to join you in December, and so many times since then I've wanted to show her or tell her what I found. She would have been thrilled today to see your mama's name on the 1930 census, a nurse shown as the "matron" of the house for nursing students -- listed as "inmates." She would have gotten a chuckle at the notation that, yes, she did own a "radio set." And we could have marveled at your dad's occupation listed on the 1910 census. We knew he was a salesman. But of "tea"?
So, Grannie dear, I thank you for leaving me all of these treasures and this long, winding path to follow. You did take some wild twists and turns that I had to unravel, but I had the internet and you didn't. I wish you could see what I've done.
But I'm still sorry that I didn't sit down and let you show me, let you tell me, more. That I didn't pay more attention. That I never pulled out a recorder. That digital recorders and iPhones weren't invented yet.
If you're in genealogy heaven with all of your -- our -- ancestors, I hope you're all smiling down on me and getting excited at each and every find I make
And if you can find Deliverance Priest's parents, I'd appreciate it.
Your sleepless and excited grand daughter,