I am very fortunate to have 3 of my grandparents still living, but I didn’t get the chance to really get to know them as I was growing up. Since my Dad’s Mom passed away in April, I’ve been upset with myself for not spending more time with her, asking questions and listening to stories. This made me determined to get to know my family & the history while I still can, before the “history book” is lost forever!
We went to visit my Dad’s Dad & step-mother shortly after that, and his step-mom showed me old photos, and I listened to stories about my Granddad’s childhood as 1 of 10 children.
When we visited my Mom’s parents in Tennessee last month, I learned so much that I never knew. My Portuguese Grandfather told me stories about his Mom being “Rosie the Riveter” and climbing into the wings of fighter jets to put things together. His father was came to the U.S. through Ellis Island. Though the family owned (and still owns) a vineyard in Portugal, there were few work prospects for young men. So, his sister took him and his brother to the boat for America, and the first time, he jumped off! The second time, they made it through, but his brother sneezed in front of officials, and they put an X on his back to indicate he wasn’t fit for immigration. They got out of line, scrubbed the X of his back, and got in line again!
Our family tree is entwined as my great-grandmother’s sister married my great-grandfather’s brother, and the majority of the Portuguese side of my family is still in Massachusetts. I got to see photos from a 1994 family reunion, but I’m not sure I would have appreciated it had I gone. Although I’m interested in writing my family tree, I am more interested in writing my family history because when you lose a family member, you lose the history book. At your next family reunion, instead of focusing on what sort of potato salad you should bring, seek out the most “seasoned’ family members and ask them lots and lots of questions!!
Don’t let your family history book go out of print!
In memory of my Grandmother, 1/5/35-4/11/12.