Saturday, June 12, 2010

It Doesn't Matter

I think that every parent at one time or another [and maybe more than once] has "lost" their child.  Maybe it was in a department store.  Maybe it was at the grocery store.

No matter where it was, while you were looking for them, if you're the praying kind, you probably prayed, "It doesn't matter just as long as I find them."  [Or something like that.]  Then after you found them safe and sound [maybe hiding amongst the stacks of toilet paper in the grocery store], relief washed through you like a cleansing rain.  And your very, very first thought was, "It doesn't matter why you ran off.  I'm just so glad I found you."

Later there will be time for lectures and scoldings, and [my favorite], "Don't ever do that again!" demands later.

But the "I-don't-care-I'm-just-so-glad-I-found-you!" feeling is powerful.  Maybe even desperate at times.  Nothing else matters.  Just that I found you.

This is exactly how I feel when I'm searching for my ancestors.  [*snort*  Minus the panic.  Sometimes.]  When I finally find them, that's how I feel.  Never mind that I've been looking for them for years.  And not just looking for their vitals either.  I'm talking about really finding 'em.  Their nicknames.  Their likes and dislikes.  Their hopes and fears.  Their stories.

So here's what I have to say to my very, very dear ancestors:

It doesn't matter that I really don't have a "go-to" person in my family for remembrances, stories and whatnot.  [Did you never talk about yourself?  Geez Louise.]

It doesn't matter that I spend countless hours in libraries so cold that meat could be hung in there looking for you in books that look like they haven't been read, much less touched, in years.  All for just a shred [A measly shred.  Is that too much to ask?] of your very existence.

It doesn't matter that I'm going cross-eyed trying to read your contemporary's awful [God-awful] handwriting in hopes of finding where you lived or who you lived with [Geez.  Another wife? *rolling eyes heavenward*].

It doesn't matter that I have to look for your tombstone in a cemetery that looks like its last visitor ~alive or not~ was in 1965.  Or that your tombstone is probably underneath the brush left from the last hurricane.  And that it's broken.  Or that the side of town that your cemetery is in is not so good ~to say the very least~ and after looking, like forever, I still can't find you, and my tummy is growling because I skipped breakfast and lunch to find your tombstone, and I have 30 minutes left before I have to pick up the kids from school.  And there's nary a fast food restaurant around.  Nor a bathroom.  Nor a gas station [cuz, oh yeah, I need gas, too.].

It doesn't matter that I have to drive to Galveston Island, Texas and take photos of where the family farm once was.  Near the beach.  [And the waves can be heard from there.]  Or that I have to go spend time on the 3rd floor of the library where the archives are located looking for you instead of relaxing on the beach with a frosty fruity drink.  Or that I have to take the ferry from Galveston Island to Bolivar Peninsula to take photos of more beach-front property you might have lived on or nearby.  Or that I have to go back again because I got a lead on your church records.  [O.K., so maybe some searches are a little more enjoyable than others.  Thank you.  But maybe you could just send me a message in a bottle while I relax on the beach.]

Likewise, it doesn't matter what your journey was to get to me.

It doesn't matter if you ran away from home.  [Just make sure you left me a paper trail. *wink*]

It doesn't matter if you changed your name five times.  [Just who the hell were ya', anyways?]

It doesn't matter if you had two divorces, three wives, and a few mistresses.  [Oh well, some people never learn.  Just a few more leaves on the trees.  Oooh, and the stories.]

It doesn't  matter that you eloped.  [At least you only married once.  Unlike some people.  I hope you eloped in a neighboring county, though.  Not in some far-flung place that I'd never think to look in.]

It doesn't matter that all you ever had was that little piece of land that you farmed on out of necessity.  [I just hope you were happy.  And that you left the farm records behind.]

It doesn't matter that you were excommunicated  from the Catholic Church because of all your divorces.  [Paper trail. Paper trail.]

It doesn't matter that you lost everything in the hurricane.  [I'm proud you survived and bounced back.  Otherwise, whose great-granddaughter would I be?]

It doesn't matter that you didn't leave any photos behind.  [I wonder if we looked alike.  And who is responsible for my freckles?  Was that you Annie O'Brien?]

It doesn't matter that if you and I are truly related, that you weren't a patriot in the American Revolutionary War.  [I mean, I wasn't there.  Who am I to judge?  I'm just glad you stood up for what you thought was right.  Besides, without you, who would I be then?]

It just doesn't matter.  You're family.  You're mine.

You see, I'm just so glad that I found you.


  1. I love this article. It made me think about what we leave behind for future generations. Thankfully, there is A LOT of information out there for them to gather about us. It shouldn't be hard to fin. (They can search Twitter archives...LOL)

  2. Excellent!! I know exactly what you mean and I feel your pain about the beachfront property!!

  3. Good morning Texas!

    I think that this is a very good post

    I love your blog!

    Keep up the good work!

    Good morning form Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  4. This is absolutely one of the best posts I've ever read! There's so much here that I (and I'm sure so many others) can connect to, but you have such a fun way of writing it! Needless to say, I feel exactly the same way - IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!! I hope my ancestors could hear me yelling that from way over here on your blog!

    Thanks for writing this wonderful post!


  5. Thanks so much for this post. I love it and know exactly what you mean. Great way to express what so many of us feel.

  6. I love this post because I feel exactly the same way!!!

  7. wonderful post, you did put into words the way we all feel!
    why didn't they leave you the beach front property? I would really be upset with them for that

  8. That was great, Caroline!
    Yeah, suppose you knew all along what rats they were lol

    I can understand how after countless toils and troubles, pangs and tribulations, finally finding their true character is welcomed with open arms no matter what that character is.


  9. Humor, truth, love. What a great post. My sentiments exactly. Thanks for giving me some humor tonight.

  10. Well said! Thanks for a great chuckle and here's hoping we all find some more of those lost family members.

  11. Fantastic! We all "get it", don't we? :)

  12. nice post to start the morning and like renate said, i hope my ancestors are paying attention and get in touch!

  13. I loved this post so much. Gave me a kick in the rump, too. I've been wanting to dig a little further into my own family's past. That was just what I needed.

  14. Great Job Caroline...
    You have nailed alot of what all of us feel in are pursuit of our family history...especially my cousin and I who have been at this sometime..and travel a distance for that shred ..shred...(shread is alot...when your coming up with nothing at times)...and then there are the times it rains...feast or famine..and you get so much info you can't wrap your brain around it and have to take a break from it all to return to see alittle more clearly...and ofcourse those surnames just keep on coming..the more we look to find...still working on ours.....van cleve,odum,martin,kendall, brown,todd,elkins,lasley,marcum,dobbs,and my elusive connelly/conley tree..(just to name a few).........but love how you can put it into words...keep writing! Cuz


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