Saturday, January 9, 2010

musty books & white gloves

Besides passing the time being pregnant, (!) I also occasionally do stuff. Sometimes cook. Sometimes clean. Sometimes visit old cemeteries and talk to headstones. That's what I did in Seattle, where some of them were related to me. Well, the headstone itself wasn't related, but it was about as close as I could get. Wanted to get.

The information we unearthed (figuratively speaking... oh, I've been married too long) at the cemetery quickly raised more questions than it answered, such as: how can a woman, dead for three months, be deemed the mother in a birth certificate; and is Lillian Manchini also Lillie Costantino? That would mean she divorced Angelo...?

So, during the days when my in-laws were cozily enjoying the afterglow of Christmas day, I quickly found myself at the Puget Sound Archives sorting through old books and shussshhhing my daughter. Not quite the experience I'm sure Scott had in mind when he contemplated nine days off of work, but he was a true gentleman about the whole thing -- quite patient with his daughter, and very generous with his wife. (And visa-versa.)

I'd never been to archives before, and while I'm not sure such a place is typically described as thrilling, I can think of no more fitting word. Scott and I have been the family history teachers in our ward for 8 or 9 months now, and I've learned quite a bit about it. But something about putting on white gloves to scour huge, old, handwritten books is moving. Even when one of the things you're looking up is actually your great-grandparents' divorce.

There's always been a huge hole in our family history; my dad's father left the home when he was just four years old, and little is consequently known about that man's parents or sibling(s). I had no idea how much of an impact it all made in my life until I started working on finding these people. It took me utterly aback to feel such a powerful yearning to know them.

But the greater surprise has been the discovery that I do know them. I find I have bits of intuition, layered in documents and an understanding of Italian culture, and surprise myself by how often this intuition ends up being right. I find they are very involved in this process, in their own way. And you can't help but get a feel for someone when they've been looking over your shoulder and nudging you along for months.

There's still many more leads to pursue, a few mysteries yet to be solved, and countless names to be found. But while it will always be delightful, I have ceased being shocked when something falls into place in just the right way. The work I'm doing matters, and while the factor of chance are ever present in this world, there are unseen people working just as passionately as I am, perhaps even more so. And it's been a joy to get to know them. I just wish I had a few photographs.



Congratulations on your pregnancy!!! And how fun that you are making some fun discoveries in your family history. You are such an inspiration to me!

The Nat Nat said...

Congrats on the new baby! That is fantastic!

Also, good for you for finding the lost family members. Keep looking, you'll get there.

Grace said...

Mickelle that is just SO great that you found this information on your exciting! When is your 2nd little baby due? Congratulations!!!