January 16, 2016

This and that

Sorry for not having posted here in so long; it's been a very busy couple of months, and I frankly have had neither the time nor the motivation to write. Life has been hectic, and genealogy research slow going.

Today I was home sick with a bad cold, and was streaming videos from YouTube to my tv. I ended up watching a show I'd never seen before, Long Lost Family or something. It's British, and it's about people who try to find family members, almost always parents and children. It's a nice, heartwarming program.

One thing I couldn't help wondering at, though, were those featured who were looking for parents who had abandoned them. Maybe I don't understand, because I was fortunate enough to have a loving, stable two-parent home, but why would you want to reach out to someone who has treated you badly?

My mother's father Henry was abusive to my grandmother, and she divorced him in 1948. My mother had little contact with her father after the divorce; the last time she ever saw him was the day during her freshman year that he showed up at her school, waiting for her out front when the last bell rang. He mentioned that he was moving across the country, and asked Mom if they could go for a drive and talk before he left. Mom's intuition warned her not to go with him, and she told him no. He drove off in a fury.

In the mid-seventies, soon after I was born, Mom apparently began feeling sentimental, and decided to try to contact her father. She was thinking what a shame it was that he didn't even know he had five grandchildren.

This was before the interwebs, you see, so Mom dialed "0" hoping to get a phone number for Henry. Mom, always a talker, ended up telling the kindly Irish operator that she was searching for her estranged father. He told her, in his lovely lilting accent, "Sometimes, lass, it's better t'let sleepin' dogs lie."

Mom said that she realized that he was probably right-- why should she contact him, really? So she ended her search.

The show made me wonder how things might have been different if she hadn't. I tend to be extremely cynical about people and human nature, and think that my mother was wise to listen to the operator and leave her father out of her life. On the other hand, what if my mother and her father had reconnected, and he had changed for the better? What if Mom could have had a good relationship with him? Henry didn't die until 1987, so I might have known him.

My mother never had anything good to say about Henry, but strangely, she always kept a photo of him in her bedroom, among a collection of other family photos in silver frames. In the photo, he's posed beside my six-year-old mom, who's dressed in a cowgirl outfit. That's the only photo I have ever seen of him. This photo, along with some others, disappeared in a move about ten years ago. I know this isn't genealogy, just some ramblings about family and relationships.

In the meantime, I've updated the blog's look a bit. Added a sidebar, as I wanted it to be more searchable, and tweaked the fonts and the colors. Hope you like.

I promise to resume blogging more regularly.