Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Strange (and Estranged) Family

It seems natural that people interested in family history would be interested in cultivating relationships with their living relatives. After all, some of them are older than us, and they may have interesting information to share. Plus, what we document now for our living relatives could be great to pass on to future historians in our families.

Sometimes though, it doesn't work out that way.

In my strange little family, there are a lot of off limits family members, for various reasons. My grandfather has been estranged from his brother for about 15 years now. He is the second oldest person in my maternal family, and theoretically could be a source of info for me. However, my grandfather is the oldest, and he was definitely the closest with his mother, whom I am very interested in. I don't think he would mind necessarily if I contacted his brother, but knowing the details of their falling out, I am definitely 'Team Gramps' and cannot bring myself to do it. For now, I've filled in what I know about my grand uncle and his family, and I get plenty of information from my grandfather. Don't ask him about his love life though. The response is: "Some things a granddaughter doesn't need to know." To be clear, I was not asking for sordid details. My actual question was, "What was the name of the woman you were in love with before you met my grandmother?" Apparently, it was too personal.

Here's the heartthrob himself, with another woman he refuses to name!
In my paternal line, some of my questions could be very easily answered by living relatives. For instance, the post from yesterday (Who was Grandma Alice?), I'm sure could be answered quite easily by either my biological father or any of his siblings. For personal reasons, I have not had contact with any of my paternal family as an adult. And yet, I am very interested in their/my lines. My grandparents and great grandparents are very interesting to me. I wonder if any one else feels similarly to me on this.

It does make for very interesting research. On my mother's side I have both grandparents and a mom who loves family history, and I can share my findings with them, ask questions to my heart's delight, etc. On the other side I am flying blind, other than what my mother remembers learning about them in the early 80s (not to diminish that--she has an excellent memory!).

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