Why is it that when you are finally old enough to be interested in the history of your family, the people with the stories are gone?
I just recently attended the funeral of my great aunt and discovered that her and her husband had run a boat rental business down in the Lake of the Ozarks for years. I had no idea. I had spent years at Thanksgiving dinners and Xmas get togethers with this lady. This little, frail lady who I thought I had nothing in common with. Apparently she liked the outdoors, the lake, swimming and boats…apparently we had a lot in common.
My father recently heard me talking about my friend in Seattle. “Seattle, huh?” he says to me. He proceeds to tell me my grandmother’s sister lived on Mercer Island up in Washington for years. Why am I just discovering this now?
I remember about 14 years ago I traveled to Chicago with my aunt and cousin. One evening after a night out, we were sitting around the hotel room talking. My grandmother came up in the conversation, a grandmother who had actually lived with us my entire life until she passed away when I was 16. My aunt proceeded to tell me the man she married (my grandfather) was not who she had intended to end up with. That there had been this other man…this other man she loved more…the man she had hoped to end up with. No one knows what happened or how and why things worked out differently. But to think I had lived with this woman all my life who had probably died having loved another man all that time.
Now I’m 35. Now I want to know more. Now they are all gone.