I sat down and summarized all I know about both sets of my grandparents. I find nothing extraordinary in their lives. I’m feeling a little defeated. I don’t know what I expected to find. I was pretty sure I would disprove family myths, but haven’t found out where or how such myths started.
On my dad’s side, family history tells me Grandad Art was injured by mustard gas when he was in Europe during WWI. Unfortunately, I don’t have complete info as to his battallion. I only know he was in Company M of the 1st Infantry. I don’t have a Division or Battalion or whether he was with the Engineers or another group. I am looking into requesting a copy of his military records. But, it looks like the feds restrict access his military to next of kin, but a grandchild doesn’t apparently qualify. Seems pretty ridiculous, since my direct decendent to him, my dad, is also dead and I can’t access any records on him, because my mom is his next of kin. Until she is dead, I guess, I can’t get more information for now. Just like anything in life, a catch 22.
On my mother’s side the most exciting thing I have found is that Grandma was born some 6 months after her parents married. I wonder if my Mom ever made the discovery? Probably she figured it out and knew better than to say anything. Grandma was pretty close mouthed. I know I never had much to do with her. It’s unfortunate, because I would have liked to know how she felt, her mother had to get married, and then by the time Grandma was 10 Mom was divorced and remarried, and this is 1920. The few photos I’ve seen of Grandma make me think she was a sad little girl, and I would like to know why. What was her relationship with her brother and sister, the siblings I didn’t even know existed until I started the family history in earnest. I’d like to know if Grandpa really did run around behind Grandma’s back thinking she didn’t know. I find a man fitting his description in a news article about being arrested for being with a girl of ill repute. There’s a chance it’s not Grandpa, I some details fit, but still I can’t be sure. It would be more interesting if it was true. Then I’d like to find out why Grandpa cheated. Did my grandma have a sense of humor? Did grandpa have green eyes, like me? Did great aunt Dorothy paint?
I don’t remember my parents being particularly funny, or any of my siblings, though I do remember there being some humor in the house. Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. I guess that counts.
I’m disapointed that I don’t find anything more substantial, but then I always knew my family was mediocre. Maybe that’s why I feel different? That I don’t want to settle for middle of the road lifestyle. I want something different … … an artist’s life. I imagine myself in a loft in Santa Monica, writing my novel and spending my time between open mics in the city. Instead I’m in Suburbia with dogs to walk and baseball games to attend.
Family history never interested anyone else in my family. They seem to feel that anything in the past should stay in the past. I agree with the principal of living in today, but there is so much information we are losing. We are losing our sense of Americanism and the tradition of folklore is dead. No one seems to care if they had an uncle who died in Georgia during the Civil War, while I would want to know what battallion he was with and which battle, was he injured in battle, or did he die of dysentary? We are losing the details of our lives as Americans. We are losing our connection with our American history.
As I do my research, I find so many people I am distantly connected to by blood. Loads of aunts and uncles, dozens of cousins and second cousins, who are also doing research and eventually we connect the dots to each other. It makes me feel more connected to other people in the world, just as the Buddhists say, we are all connected. I don’t understand how anyone could feel otherwise.