My father passed away this summer. I shared some thoughts about his death on Instagram, however I've struggled to write about it on the blog for some reason.
When I returned home after his funeral, I struggled to jump back into life right away. Instead of figuring out how to get back to normal, I let myself get lost searching my family's history.
I'm very fortunate that a distant cousin of mine has created an in-depth online family tree of my dad's side, and included is a report my dad wrote about my great great grandfather and his move to the United States in the 1800s. Many puzzle pieces have been put together on that branch of my family tree, and the stories I read motivated me to move onto my mom's side and even my husband's family tree.
As I make more connections on my family tree and put faces to names using scanned copies of vintage photos my grandpa had, I start to learn their stories.
A photo of my great great grandfather's general store and his children - a store that still exists (now as a bar) with my family's surname still visible on a top brick.
A posed photo of my great grandfather wearing a tie - a man with a college degree in the early 1900s.
An incredibly sweet love letter my great grandfather wrote to a woman who would become his wife and, one day, my great grandmother.
With every story I discover, I feel closer to my ancestors. Family members I will never meet or know, who will never be able to personally share their stories, but are a part of my family's history.
Tomorrow my grandpa, turns 103.
He has already outlived my dad by 34 years. He's lost two wives, and now a son. But he has so many stories. And I'm so incredibly thankful that he's still able to share them, along with several other grandparents.
Driving to the cemetery at my dad's funeral, my grandpa recalled meeting my grandmother.
He spoke about friends setting them up to meet and first gathering at someone's apartment, where they ate dinner. Later that evening, they spent some time together until she finally asked, with some irritation: "Well, aren't we going to eat?" Of course, he had to take her to somewhere to eat then...but he said, "that settled it...he really liked her speaking up like that."
Stories like these are so important to who they are, and to who I am, and it makes me a bit sad to think I may have never heard this story. Known how they met and how her strong personality stood out to him that evening.
And then it makes my heart heavy to think that there are stories we will never hear.
Though he told me many, my own father cannot share any more stories with me. I suppose that's why I've thrown myself into tracking down the stories of my ancestors. To make up for the ones my dad never got to tell me.
These stories only live on if we tell them.
Write your stories down.
Pair them with photos.
& most of all, share them with someone else.
In honor of my grandpa's 103rd birthday: These crazy facts about life in 1910 America will make you appreciate the little things.