Family history can be a tough thing to gasp onto. People passing on without sharing their history, people refusing to share their history, or drama that is as old as they are can hold back information that is vital for the younger members of a family to know.
In my case, I don't have a lot of access to family history. So much drama and clash of personalities as well as untimely deaths came in the way of me knowing more of where I came from. I have a few pieces but of course I would want to know more.
After my mother's passing her family virtually disappeared. Mind you they all live in the same borough I did for years but the last name they have is so common it has been very hard to find them. Maybe its for the best. My grandmother passed on in my early 20s, she was the other mother to me. My confidant and companion as I was hers. But she was a very private person and well I don't have photos or heaps of information from her family. Then there is my grandpa's family (my dad's father-I never knew my mother's parents).
Although he passed on when I was 17 unexpectedly, he did have two sisters that I got to know starting at 14. It was tough to get to know them because I didn't want to hurt my grandma and well, there was a lot of bad blood between them. I must say I empathize with my grandma's feelings because a great deal of wrongs were done to her but she gave me her blessing to get to know them.
My grandpa and his sisters were born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and after my visit with my Great Aunt this weekend I learned they came from a long line of Puerto Ricans. The same cannot be said for my mother's side or of my grandma's side (she was half Spanish/half Peruvian Indian).
I felt very lucky that my Great Aunt who is now 93 years old was willing to share some things with me including some photos of her mom and of her mother's parents (the ones in the large frames). I took photos of them because I may never own these photos but at least I have something.
I plan to send both my aunts (one lives in Puerto Rico now) and a Great Uncle (he is actually my grandpa's best friend but we refer to him as Tio, which means uncle) a letter this week with photos of my children in the hopes hearing from me and seeing the photos would put a smile on their face.
Family is such a fragile thing. All that drama and all those problems that were before I was born, well everyone involved is almost gone. Sadly because of all those things I have no access to my father's siblings and neither does he. I don't understand how people cannot get how short life really is and how important it is to have one another and share our lives with each other.
My Great-Great Paternal Grandparents: Guillermo and Josefa Zapata (my father's grandma's parents)
My sweet grandpa's beloved mother Dolores. He was very close to her and they are buried nearby each other at the same cemetery my mother is at.
My grandpa's father named Jose. He passed away at 28 and my Aunt (Tia) looks exactly like him. Plus the mustaches in my family have been passed down to my father who has a killer mustache!
Myself and my Aunt with my children. I supposed since I am her Great-Niece that makes my children her Great-Nieces and Nephews. They gave her loads of hugs and kisses.
I think because of my own lack of family history I am driven to ensure my children have their history written down as well as my husband and myself. Each child has a baby book in which I filled out details of their babyhood. I take loads and loads of photos of them. And I have been journaling since I was 9 so one day my children, if they want to can read them and get to know me at all these different stages of life.
Family history is vital because it connects you to your past and gives you deeper meaning to your present as well as your future.
Do you have access to your family history? Have you been met with roadblocks like I have? What have you done to rectify that?