Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: A Beggar Wishes

My Dad & Aunt Carole ca.1942
"O.K., who's up for an "All the Houses I Grew Up In" tour?

While visiting family in San Antonio when I was younger, I think my dad asked that question just to hear our groans.  We really didn't have a choice in the matter.  We were going and we were gonna start with the house he was born in.  Just like every other single time.  And the tour wasn't just of the houses my dad grew up in either.  [Of course not.]  It included his high school; his junior high; his hang-outs; where he used to drag race [In the dark. With no headlights.]; where he and mom used to go on dates; where he ran the Air Force guy off the road to tell him that *he* [my dad] was her boyfriend & that she wasn't available for dates anymore [I'm sure he was very polite about that. *snort*]; etc.

A quick glance at the calendar reminds me that March 12th is the 7th anniversary of his death, and it's approaching quickly.  Perhaps that's why he's crept into my thoughts.

Did you know he was the reason I got into genealogy in the first place?  He was.

I remember my senior year in high school and working on my genealogy school project.  And I remember him asking me to "do" our genealogy.  That he only knew a few things about his dad, Big Paw Paw.  And that he wanted to know more.

At the time, I found it strange that he wanted to know more about a man who had been mean to him.  A man who had never shown him love or kindness.

I didn't realize how important it was to him, and at the time, I didn't pursue our family's history other than what my Gran and my Paw Paw shared with me.  Our stories.  I was too busy living in the "now" to look up some guy from the past no one liked.

Then "life" happened, as it tends to do.  Dad's health problems rotated between battling heart attacks and kidney cancer [renal cell carcinoma], and the battles would continue for the rest of his life.  In between all that, my younger brother was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial genetic disorder, and then passed away a year and a half later.  I married, and began having my children.  Additionally throughout the years, my mom's mom, my Gran, died; my mom's brother-in-law, my Uncle Lloyd, died [He's a character with some stories.]; my dad's mom, my Paw Paw, died; my mother-in-law died from breast cancer; and then my dad died.

Like I said, "life happened."

And then one day, "life" got me to thinking about my dad's original request.  I remembered those few details that my dad had told me about Big Paw Paw.  And, well, I started looking.  I chronicled that rough & rocky rookie family history journey here.  [It's not pretty, and, um, it's in 6 parts.  So grab some coffee and donuts and get comfy before reading.]

I wish I'd started researching our family's history when he was alive.  I wish he was here doing it with me.  My dad loved researching on the internet, loved history, and loved technology.  He would've loved genealogy.

But like mom always used to say when I was younger, "If wishes were horses, Caroline, beggars could ride."

*Sigh.* She's right, as usual.

So, I plug along.



Chronicling my ancestors' lives.

But I must be a "beggar" at heart.  'Cause I still keep wishing for my dad to come riding in on a horse to give me one of his dang "All the Houses I Grew Up In" tours.
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  1. Hi Caroline ~ I have to say that reading this brought tears to my eyes...and it also made me realize how much I appreciate the fact that I will be having dinner with my parents tonight to celebrate my Mom's birthday!

    Oh, and my Mom always used to say that (about if wishes were horses) to us growing up...I think it was in the "Mom Handbook" for that generation!

  2. Looking forward to reading your 6 part-er, and I lost my Dad in March too, so have been thinking about him a lot of late. He knew loads about our family history and drew out a chart on a huge piece of card - it has scribbles and arrows and crossings-out and is a treasure. That piece of card got me interested in genealogy :-) Jo

  3. So sentimental Caroline, very emotional. I need to go read your six parter also.

  4. Sad how "life happened." Don't we all wish we had done more before our loved ones died? Wishing you a peaceful day.

  5. Great post Caroline, now excuse me while I go get a kleenex. I seem to have something in my eye ;)

  6. my father died 11 years ago february 20 and i've got a few tears over here too. i like the way you ended this post.

  7. Boy - am I ready for "All the Houses I Grew Up In" tour! That sounds like fun! Can't wait to read the rest. I must say though, I have never heard the "if wishes were horses ..." thing. I think we are in the same generation -- must have been a southern thing?

  8. What a moving post. I started genealogy for my father when he was diagnosed with cancer. I had only just begun when he past away 6 months later. What I started for my father quickly became an obsession. I only wish that he could share in my discoveries. Sometimes in what we do that keeps their memories alive.

  9. Hi, I just selected your blog for the Ancestor Approved Award. You can go to my site to get the picture and post it on your wall. Good job with your blog.

  10. Hello, Caroline! I enjoyed reading this story. It made me wish I could investigate my family history, too. WWho knows, maybe one day I will. Thank you for the idea as well as for sharing your findings!

  11. My mom used to say that to. She had so many sayingss. She grew up in northern mn where many came from S.D. if that makes any difference. I too wish I had started my search when mom was alive, but somehow, I couldn't. I am enjoyig your account of it.

  12. Just found your blog and I am in awe. The presentation is excellent. Your writing is phenomenal. I wish I knew your Dad and I even snort. Our family figures if you can't laugh loud and snort, why bother!

  13. Wow, Caroline, I never knew this story about how you got started in genealogy. You often mention Big Paw Paw, and now I know it's your father's father, the one he wanted to know about even though Big Paw Paw had been mean to him. Maybe in your research you have found out reasons/explanations for the mean temperament in the rough & rocky history. That sounds like it would make a good book.

  14. Well, if you're a "beggar" than so am I! My dad passed away three years ago from cancer. How I wish he were here to help me with his family history. It was always, "hey, I'm doing mom's genealogy and you're doing your side of the family so I don't need to worry about it." Well, now I'm working on his side too and I have questions. Why is it we don't ask the questions when we can?

    Thanks for a great post. Now I'll need to read your family history journey. :)


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