Our ancestors are totally essential to our every waking moment,
although most of us don't even have the faintest idea about
their lives, their trials, their hardships or challenges.
But I'm about to dig it up.
I remember being about seven. It was Christmas day. My cousin Matthew and I were sitting on my grandparents' bar stools, swinging our feet and drinking Nesquik hot chocolate with marshmallows. Across the bar in the living room, the "old people" were gathering to take pictures by the mantle- my Dad, his mom and her mom. And my Papa. He stood to the left of my Dad, by himself. After the picture, I asked my Meme, Where is Papa's family?
I'll never forget the reply: Christmas is a happy time. We don't talk about that.
And that is the first- and only- time it was ever discussed.
It wasn't enough. It wasn't then, and it isn't now. My family tree, stretching wide and beautiful back to the 1600s, is sawed off on this side of the tree. The missing branches haunt me.
After asking some hard questions and joining Ancestry.com, I've found a few answers. My Papa's mother, who died the same year I was born, had my Papa when she was 26. That was easy enough to find; my parents still remember her and she is buried near my Papa. It was the 1930 U.S. Federal Census that made my heart stop. There she is, my Great-Grandmother, Delia, living with her brother, Hugh, and her mother, Lou. And there's my Papa: Paul R... with... wait. What does that say??
I was shocked. Shocked and intrigued. Further study has turned up nothing. Following census records revert to the family name and never hint at anything amiss again. That one slip, on that one census record, has changed everything. I have far more questions than when I first started. Than when Christmas was a happy time and we didn't talk about this.
But I can't let it go. I have to know: what happened to Delia? What story did she go to the grave with? And when I find those missing branches, where will they lead?
Most importantly: what is my real last name?
This morning, I nervously opened my DNA kit from Ancestry and followed the instructions. It was simple and only took a moment.
So now, I wait. I wait, and wonder with nearly every waking moment. Annie Lennox is right: we haven't the faintest idea of these people's lives, trials, hardships or challenges....
Read Paradoxes, Part One, by clicking here.