I blame my grandparents for all of this.
In a good way.
I was tremendously lucky to grow up with all four of my grandparents around. I was a demanding chatty little thing, and so to keep me entertained they all got in the habit of telling me stories. When they ran out of ideas for imaginary creatures and fantastic lands (my dad’s mom even made up an entire series of stories for me about a pirate called Dick Deadeye; she was always ready with a new installment of Dick’s adventures whenever I asked for a story), they fell back on telling me their own history.
Looking back, I am so very, very thankful they did.
By the time I was in junior high I had come to understand the importance of these family stories, and I had even begun the rudiments of a family tree in one of my sketchbooks. It was exciting and sometimes heartbreaking to learn about family members I would never know. My dad told me darling stories of going to the railyard with his much-loved grandfather, his dad’s dad, to watch the massive coal-devouring locomotives coming in and out. My mother shared tales of her own mischievious childhood, including one of my favorites in which she pasted a wet lollipop to the derriere of her grandmother’s tremendously surprised cat. And I could never forget the desperately sad story of my grandmother’s adored older brother Bill, who drowned in Lake Ontario at a church picnic at the much-too-young age of 15. The boy drowned in five feet of water; he couldn’t swim.
It’s these precious stories that led me to genealogy.
But my approach to genealogy is perhaps a little different than the average genealogist’s approach. While I like charts and graphs as much as the next researcher, my real passion lies in family stories, treasured family objects, and images. If there was such a thing as an “interdisciplinary genealogist,” I would be one.
Heck, I am one.
So my genealogy “work station” pretty much encompasses our entire apartment, from the proper paper files by my desk, to my great-grandmother’s rosary in the wooden box next to my own, to the photo on my dresser of my grandfather, a sergeant in the Army Air Corps, in the cockpit of a WWII bomber. In our apartment, family is all around.
And that is where you’ll find me: in my home, among my family.