Darth Vader is NOT My Father


I have been helping my friend Jan with her research about her ancestors.  We have been to an old house in downtown Charleston that I know has ghostly residents haunting the halls. We visited an historic library filled with books, artifacts, and even a model of a brain.  An afternoon of internet research led us to some very interesting characters (not part of her family) from the early 1900’s and I have become infatuated with a couple of them.  I want to find a way to tie my research into a class project for a grade.  I am going to have to be creative, but I think I will find a way.

All of this has made me think about my own family.  I began an online genealogy program, and I believe to this day that the program made some major changes in function just because of my family tree.  My tree is missing roots, branches, and leaves, but as my brother said, “It is filled with nuts.”   I joke about all of this, but I am often frustrated and sad when I think about it.  Adoptions and family secrets (lies are more appropriate) keep me in the dark about many of my ancestors.

My daughter has been a great help in searching on line, writing emails/letters, and compiling information. I have been able to find some names and artifacts on my mother’s parents and grandparents.   My maternal grandmother was the first in her family to be in born in the US after her family emigrated from England.  We have a few names and dates but not much else.  My father’s lineage stops with him because he was adopted and I have no information about his biological parents, although I have heard many rumors.  I was adopted by one biological grandparent (and her husband), and didn’t get to spend much time with my father during this life.

As Jan, I am more interested in stories about these people in my lineage and who they were, what they believed, and more. I have some stories about my mother but not as many of my father.  The saddest part for me is that there are family members still alive who know stories they could share, but won’t.  There is so much anger and dissension amount these people, and it hurts my heart.  I have siblings and other family members who refuse to speak to each other.  You may understand my choice to have “a family of choice”  as well as a blood family.

I haven’t given up completely.  My daughter has taught me a lot about researching.  I have learned a great deal from working with Jan, and I have been watching the American genealogy documentary series entitled, “Who Do You Think You Are”.   I have suggested that my brother and his wife meet me in West Va. next summer and do some searching there for my father’s roots.   If nothing else, I am determined and stubborn.

I want to be sure I leave a legacy for my children, grandchildren, and hopefully great grandchildren.  I have a multitude of stories about my own life and one of my goals as a writer is to record as many of them as I can.   They won’t have to search for interesting characters in their lineage.  They have me, after all.

3 responses

  1. I feel your pain, Cathy. I know a lot about my family tree thanks to an energetic sister-in-law, but it’s the stories that really count. In my case, I get the sense that relatives preferred to take painful secrets to their graves rather than letting them out. Sad stuff. Hang in there, sister. John


    1. Thanks John. I know I am not the only one who longs for family stories!


  2. I have also traveled through the adoption process, and, like you, have some very tight-lipped relatives, especially on my father’s side of the family. Many of them are deceased now, leaving more questions than answers. In some ways, I think it’s possible I wouldn’t much like what I would find if I poked about, but then again, I’ve always believed that knowledge is power, so knowing SOMETHING rather than NOTHING is preferable. Fortunately, on my mother’s side of the family, there is a more direct line that is easily traceable. Her parents emigrated from Czechoslavakia; she and her siblings were the first generation to be born on American soil.

    Good luck in your continued search, and especially in finding a creative way to make the search a part of your class project. Why not make your time count in twice as many ways? Smart move.


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