Taking A Dip Into The Past


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?

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  1. What an intimate, special post, dear Daffny. I loved it not only for its own heartwarming merits, but because I've been an active hobbyist genealogist for years. I began with very little information over all, few other family members with the slightest interest in this area, and a very determined drive to discover more, as I too feel it is incredibly important to know all that we can about those in our family tree who came before us (and those that are with us today, too). Though some branches remain more of a mystery than others, in other cases I've made good to fantastic headway and was even able to track one line back (to Germany from North America) for several centuries. I try to devote time every month to this passion of mine and will never stop searching for me, connection the dots hidden in the mists of time, and growing the leaves on my family tree further. It's become such an important part of my life and one that I truly hope I can pass on my efforts from to a future generation (be it my own child/children, nieces and nephews, or anyone who wants to know more that I'm related to).

    ♥ Jessica

  2. I love genealogy! I am lucky that my father's paternal side kept great records over the years. I have, with the help of my father's great uncle, our history back to the 1600's. My paternal grandmother is more difficult. My mom's side is pretty well documented. My (step) daughter is a different story. So hard to get information from her mother, who was adopted by her step father at a young age. She will not talk to her biological father. My daughter will not talk to her biological mother. 1/2 German, 1/2 Italian. Sad because she could be fluent in German by now. My hubby is a Campbell. HARD but I am slowly working on it.

    It's wonderful that you are breaking these past barriers and trying. Old hurts and ways are hard to break down. Plus you and your chiuldren will have a much richer life because of it!

  3. Also, I love how you can see the woman in Jose's portrait. Just under his pocket kerchief. And I bet you have some amazing family recipes!

  4. I've hit many roadblocks, especially with the Puerto Rican side. I actually cannot find a single record of the man I was told was my great-grandfather. His name does not seem to have existed. I was unable to dig very far back and have to simply content myself with possible truths. All I know is that the Chevrestts migrated from France to Puerto Rico way back when, and the Europeans ended up marrying the Africans and Tainos (the Ferrer side). I know the Chevrestts ran a sugar plantation and most likely had slaves. I've always secretly pondered if they enslaved the Ferrers and then in NYC in the fifties, ended up marrying the ancestor of their slaves. Crazy.

  5. As for my mom's side, I hear my great-grandfather (my mother's mother's dad) was actually a stowaway on a ship from Norway and became a farmer in MN.

  6. So happy to hear you are able to connect with some of your relatives. I bet she had a lot of history to share with you and since she is 93 she has a lot of stories herself. So, nice you were able to visit with her. I know when I am old I would love to know that pieces of my family are interested in me and my history. Thanks for sharing this with us:))

  7. I have taken family history for granted until recently, because my dad is a keen genealogist and my family don't throw many things out. I am lucky to have access to stories, photos, and an extensive family tree. Only now, as I'm getting older, starting my own family and taking an interest in the past, do I appreciate what I have. I'm going to spend some time learning about my family tree myself. It's nice to know more about them, and feel connected.

    It's a shame that you have these blocks to your family connections, but it's lovely that you are making sure that this changes with your generation.


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