Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh, my mother!

In response to a previous post, blogging buddy Cheryl suggested I have a look at to find out about my ancestors which I have done. It's rather addicting to say the least. Hours slip by as minutes.

I've managed to add many names to the little squares in my family tree. The one that has had the biggest impact on me to date was my paternal grandfather. His name was Emile. I'd never known that.

My father was born in 1917 and was raised by a single mom and her parents on a farm in northern Ontario. The story goes that grandmother married grandfather against family wishes and within short order, but not before becoming pregnant, she discovered he was a heroin addict and gave him the boot. Admitting defeat and returning to her parents' home must have been difficult for this woman who by all accounts was a force to be reckoned with. She never remarried and my father only met his father when he turned 21. They never formed a relationship, seeing each other only twice before Emile died.

The names of these grandparents were never spoken in our home. They had both died before I came along so I didn't consider not knowing about them to be unusual.

I did, however, miss having grandparents for my mother's parents had also died before I was born.

Being able to put a name to this disgraced grandpa was really something.

I was talking over the phone about this with my mother last night, once more lamenting that somewhere along the way Dad's family tree that he'd had done back in the 70s had been lost.

"Oh, I have that," she said.

Oh, you have those? I've only been asking for them for 29 years! Twenty-nine years. Plus she knows that I'm tracing the family tree now and never offered them up. Mom, geez!

"How many times have I said I wish I had them?" I asked her. "And you know what I'm working on and it never twigged with you  to give them to me?"


That said, it seems one of the trees has been lost as she only has the one from my paternal grandmother's side of the family and both sides had been done. I'll be visiting her at the end of next month and will hunt for the other.

To be fair to Mom, and some days that's harder than others, she is trying much harder with me than she ever has. Over the course of my life with her, she has been so self-absorbed that I can well believe she never once heard me regretting the loss of the missing information. Now in her 80s, we've come to a new stage in our relationship, at my insistence, and I can tell she makes notes when we talk so that she remembers to ask about things in my kids and my lives when we speak. Good for her. Really. It can't be easy to change after eight decades.

So way to go, Mom. I appreciate your effort.

Anyone have any family stories to share?



  1. ahh Gladys, Gladys, Gladys....

  2. I know, right? Every time I start to bemoan how f'ed up I am, I have to marvel that I turned out as well as I have.

  3. I'm glad to hear you are having some luck on the website. John has lost a lot of sleep losing track of time. I hope you find some stuff at your mom's.

  4. I've hit a wall. Mom's ancestors were all illiterate and poor so there seems to be a lack of records. I was counting on the Catholic Church records, but those have run dry as well. I am wondering where to find information on Mohawk births, etc. as one of my great grandmothers was First Nations and I'd guess she would have been Mohawk because of the area.

  5. I've heard at least in the US there are companies that do DNA testing and they can provide your family history based on that. The Mormons are also said to have the worlds largest database in Salt Lake City.