Two weeks before Christmas, I received a text from a cousin, saying he had some pictures for me. I have to admit, my first thought was, “Great, more pictures of people I don’t know.”
There are a lot of empty spaces in my family history. I never knew my paternal grandfather. My father never spoke of him other than disparagingly. My understanding was that my grandfather left his family in Detroit when my father was young, and returned to Nova Scotia, where his parents lived. A few years ago, I found out that wasn’t true. I am working on a blog post I will entitle, “The Dad I Never Knew,” and will publish it later.
When I opened the envelope from my cousin, there were several photos of my grandfather with my grandmother, my dad at age three, and his sister in my grandmother’s arms.
Thirteen years ago, I began searching for my grandfather on one of the ancestry websites. I was excited to find several records with names on census reports, ship passages, and residences in Canada and in Detroit, Michigan. I found a photo of my great grandfather with his family. I followed the information as far as I could and exchanged a few email messages with some people who had a very distant connection to the family.
My searching didn’t get very far, and I finally stopped. I put the stack of information in a file and set it aside. Since that time, I retired, we downsized, and moved to a new house.
I was told about another family search resource and again started looking for information. Just as before, I was disappointed. I just couldn’t seem to get anywhere. I started to think that what I thought I knew was wrong all along.
Two days after I received the photos of my grandfather, I suddenly found a lot of information, including photos, of my grandfather’s brother, online. I came across his name years ago in my early searches, but now I had photos of my great uncle and his wife. Reading their obituaries, I discovered they had a son. I was sad to read the son, who was my dad’s cousin, passed away just two years ago. However, I also learned that his wife is still living!
I was thrilled to read that my father’s cousin and his wife had children. I then discovered that one son and his wife are on Facebook! I couldn’t believe it! I sent a message to the son, who I prayed was actually my cousin.
I sent a lengthy story with as many details as I could recall, listing my father’s family members. A day later, I received a response.
“Hello Dale, this is your cousin…” I almost started crying! I couldn’t believe it! After all this time, I finally have a connection to my father’s family. My cousin spoke to his mother, and she recalled a story about my dad coming to Amherst, Nova Scotia when he was sixteen, and the boy who eventually became her husband, was twelve years old.
My cousin and I have corresponded a few times. He sent me a photo of a fly-fishing rod that belonged to my grandfather. Tears come to my eyes as I write this. I want to know my father’s family! I want to know about my grandfather!
I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my dad that ever would have allowed me to ask questions about his father. So, I will find him now.