thegenealogygirl


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

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These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!

 

 


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The Price That We Pay as the Keepers of the Memories

PETERSON, Grandma and Grandpa with Kent kids, 1987

My siblings and I with our grandparents – Ronald and Margaret Peterson.  1987

The first time I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, I was in my late teens or early twenties attending college.  I was instantly struck by the lack of true joy that existed in the community because of the absence of historical knowledge and freedom of choice.  The stripping away of freedoms, the complete control of the environment – even the weather itself – eventually led to a deterioration in all that makes us human.  No one chose their own career, spouse, number of children, what to eat.  They took daily “vitamins” to control their sexual urges.  Children were bred and then placed with families.  Members of the community were instructed in every way.  They even lost their ability to see color.

But there was one community member who was the “Keeper of Memories”.  This community elder was tasked to contain all knowledge of the past.  He held the memories of snow, music, dance, colors, taste, love, fear, courage, war, death, hunger, and everything in life that has the potential to bring pain.  He alone could advise the other village elders on matters they did not understand.  He alone kept the memories of humanity.

Jonas, the main character of the story, is selected to be the next “Keeper of Memories” and begins to meet with the man for whom the book is titled.  The Giver slowly pours memories into Jonas.  He begins with pleasant memories.  As time passes Jonas learns all that has been taken from him and his community members.  He learns that joy and pain are two sides of the same coin.  That the deeper we love, the deeper our loss when death comes.

Genealogists are also Keepers of Memories.  Memories of family members and their lives.  Memories of facts and stories.  Memories of how our family members fit into history.  We research, archive, write, analyze, preserve, store, share, and most of all – we tell.

Genealogists may be the Keepers of Memories for their families.  But they are nothing like Lowry’s Keeper of Memories.  We tell everything we can, to everyone who will listen.

We pay a price for our role as Keepers.  We give up time, money, space in our homes and hearts.  We have rooms filled with boxes, photos, albums, records, and artifacts.  We pay far more than we would ever admit for supplies, trips, education, books, records, and subscriptions.  We spend more time than even exists in a normal person’s week on our work.  We fill our hearts to overflowing with connections, memories, and love for people – many of whom we have never met.

There is another price we pay.

It is sharp, gut wrenching pain.

Pain that comes when we open a death record for a little baby and read that they died of measles in their infancy.  Pain we feel again when we hear people refusing vaccines for their children.  Because we know.  We have read the records and seen child after child in the same family die of diseases that are preventable today.

Pain that comes when we learn that some ancestor was intentionally harmed by someone.  Or even worse, when we learn that a member of our family chose to cause harm to someone.

Pain that comes when we doggedly chase lead after lead after lead, hoping to find that one record, that one fact that will finally poke a hole in our brick wall only to face disappointment.

Pain that comes when we have some simple daily reminder of how we lost someone that we love more than we can possibly say.

That happened to me this weekend.

I was watching something from my DVR.  An old episode of Long Lost Family that I hadn’t watched yet.  When it finished and I clicked delete, the TV went right to the channel it was on and a commercial began to play at that moment.  The moment I clicked the off button was the exact moment I heard “…cures Hep C…”.  I instantly turned the TV back on and sobbed as I watched a commercial for the first time, advertising a new wonder drug that can cure Hepatitis C in a few weeks or months with a 95% cure rate.*

My heart immediately ached for my Grandpa Peterson.  A man that I loved with my whole heart.  A man who was good and loving and selfless.  A man who always had time to listen and help.  A grandpa like no other.  A grandpa who spent time with me – lots of time.  He was a Mormon Missionary, a Marine, a University Professor, a Psychologist, a Church Leader, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a School Board President, a good neighbor, and an outstanding son, husband, father, brother, and grandfather.

He died about the same time that I first read The Giver.  I was 20 years old when he passed.  It was a punch to the gut.

He died of complications from Hepatitis C that he contracted from a blood transfusion in the eighties.  Near the end, he had Congestive Heart Failure that was so advanced he slept in a wooden rocking chair most nights.  He tried everything the doctors suggested.  He tried Interferon treatments that left him even sicker, much like chemo treatments.  He was on a no salt diet and meds for his CHF.  Nothing was working.  As a last ditch effort, he had heart surgery.  There was a slim chance he would recover and then they could give him a liver transplant.  But he never left the hospital.  He died two weeks later, three weeks after his 71st birthday.

As I watched the commercial, I sobbed for the years that I lost with my Grandpa.  And I thought about how we, as our family’s Keeper of Memories, can’t help but connect everything we see, hear, read, and experience to some part of our family’s history.  I’m not the only member of my family who remembers how we lost Grandpa.  There are plenty of others who share in the same pain.  But there are so many other parts of our family story that are kept only by me.

I am my family’s Keeper of Memories.  I pay a price because of that.  But it is a price I would pay again and again because the joy, understanding, and connections that come, outweigh the price every single day.  Even on the days when a TV commercial reminds me of one of my greatest losses.  The depth of my pain only exists because of the depth of my love and the joyful memories of a grandfather who loved being a grandfather – who loved me completely and let me know it.

I treasure my role as Keeper of Memories for my family.  I don’t need that red sled.  I’m staying in this role until I know it’s time to pass the torch.  I will keep telling everyone in my family who will listen, the precious tid-bits about our past.

My Grandpa is one of the reasons I embraced this role that came to me.  His memory should never be forgotten.  I will do my best to make sure it isn’t.

 

What joy and pain have come to you as your family’s Keeper of Memories?

 

 

*I’m not sure if I got the numbers from the commercial exactly right.  That is what I recall.  I didn’t want to find it and watch it again.

 

ps – I believe that Families can be Forever.  This belief means that the flip side of my pain in missing my Grandpa is the joy of knowing I will see him again.  I treasure that knowledge.  His death was the first that I experienced in my family.  (Not counting great grandparents who I didn’t know nearly as well.)  That, and the manner in which he died, and the strength of our relationship, have made his loss more painful than many others I have experienced.  Which makes my gratitude for Eternal Families even deeper.  You can read more about what I believe here.


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This Sunday – The Best Mother’s Day!

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My missionary son has been gone for almost 9 months!  He emails every week and sends photos and videos.  He is doing great!  He loves people and loves to serve and that pretty much sums up how a missionary spends their time.  In the picture above he is second from the right holding a fire extinguisher.  This group of missionaries is helping restore a home that was badly damaged due to severe weather.

On Sunday, my missionary will get to Facetime with us for Mother’s Day!  Hooray!!  Missionaries call home twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day.  I’m excited to get to talk to my boy.  I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for how quickly the years pass, so here are a few shots of my oldest.  ❤

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That boy of mine had a rough introduction to the world.  He was born 11 weeks early and weighed 2 1/2 lbs.  He spent the first 7 weeks and 2 days of his life in the NICU.  He is 3 days old in this photo.

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Here we are on a fun little family stay-cation exploring historical pioneer sights around Salt Lake City, Utah.  August 2010

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First day of school photos, August 2011.

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Hanging out at the base of Bridal Veil Falls, August 2012.

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Family photo shoot, Spring 2013.

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Same photo shoot.

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Senior pics, spring 2016.

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Last family photo shoot for a few years, August 2016.

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Last photo with all three of my boys for a few years, August 17, 2016.

Happy Mother’s Day!  ❤ ❤ ❤

 


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FamilySearch Recipes

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During RootsTech, FamilySearch announced FamilySearch Recipes.  A portion of their website dedicated to preserving favorite family recipes.  What a fabulous idea!

Most of us have special recipes in our families, even if they are from the current generation.  In my family, I have a few favorite recipes that come from my Grandma.  There aren’t many, but the few I have are treasures.  I have several of my own recipes that my family LOVES.  I can’t get back the family recipes that have been lost to time, but I can be sure to preserve my own recipes for my children and the generations that will follow.

My oldest son is currently serving as a Missionary for our church.  His 19th birthday is coming up.  Missionaries don’t really need much.  They move very frequently and live out of 2 large suitcases and 1 one carry-on suitcase.  He doesn’t need more “stuff” for his birthday.  But he could probably use a little dose of home.

So, for his birthday I created him this very detailed recipe of his favorite pasta:

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And because I know he will most likely lose track of his laminated recipe cards at some point in his life, I also uploaded it to FamilySearch Recipes.

I included the background of this recipe:

In 2007 I had a cardiac ablation. Afterwards I developed a blood clot in my neck. It was very painful and I lost mobility in my neck and shoulders. I was stuck resting for a few weeks. During that time our next door neighbors were doing some remodeling in their kitchen. My sweet neighbor, and very good friend – Brooke, cooked dinner in our kitchen for both of our families for many days. One day she tried a new pasta recipe. I LOVED it. I kept meaning to ask her for the recipe. I never remembered to ask. We moved away and I still thought about that yummy pasta on occasion. I decided to try to recreate it. After many revisions, this was the end result. It has become a family favorite. It is fast and easy to make, light and delicious. My oldest son especially loves this pasta dish. For his 19th birthday – his first birthday as a missionary – I created this detailed recipe for him to follow.

Not only do I love this pasta because it is delicious, but I love it because it reminds me of my very dear friend and her loving service to me and my family. As a bonus, Brooke’s husband is my husband’s 3rd cousin. A fact we discovered several months after we became neighbors.  🙂

 

I look forward to preserving additional recipes on FamilySearch Recipes.  Especially the few that come from my Grandma.  She made the best orange rolls!  That one needs to be preserved for sure.

 

Do you have any family recipes you want to preserve?

 

 


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Hello Friends!

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RootsTech was fabulous!

I have so much to say about so many things.  I’ll just start with a few headlines:

  • RootsTech.  Love, love, loved that experience once again.  So much learning!  If you didn’t watch LeVar Burton’s opening session, it is a must see.
  • My missionary son has been gone for 6 months on Friday.  It’s going so fast!  A few photos below.
  • A while back I wrote about a new church responsibility that was keeping me busy.  Well, it happened again.  Only this time I am serving in a busy calling with many, many children – my favorite.  The timing slowed me way down, about 7 weeks before my missionary left.  But I’ve got my sea legs and I’m trying to fit in some old loves once again – like blogging.
  • I have been organizing those piles of letters getting ready to start scanning.  Hooray!
  • I am about to foray into the DNA genealogy world.  I have several people I will be testing over the next few months.  Kits purchased, now it’s time to learn.  Please send any beginner tips you have my way.
  • I may not have been writing about family history, but I’ve still been doing plenty of it.  Which means I have many happy discoveries and tips to share.

 

Have a wonderful week, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 


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Photograph Showcase – One More Family Photo

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The Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1970

This family photo was taken just before my dad’s oldest brother went on an LDS mission.  It was one last family photo before the first child left home.  My dad is in the back row on the right with the big old sideburns.

Ronald and Margaret Peterson family, February 1981

The Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1981

This family photo was taken just before my dad’s youngest brother left on an LDS mission.  One last family photo before the baby left home.  By this time there were three daughters-in-law, and plenty of grandchildren.

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The entire Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1981

Look at all those granddaughters!  My brother is the only grandson in that photo.  After four sons, my grandparents had 12 granddaughters and 5 grandsons.  I am the little darlin’ in the front row on the far right.

I’m grateful that these lovely family photos survived and made their way to me.  I’m glad that my grandparents were able to have these photos taken to mark these occasions and remember.

I am planning to do the same for my little family.

As a side note, in my dad’s family of six, every single family member served an LDS mission.  Grandpa – New Zealand, Grandma – California, Uncle Mark – Uruguay, my Dad – Ohio, Uncle Miles – Japan, Uncle Blake – Japan.  Thinking about their service, and my son’s upcoming service, I am considering creating a chart of ancestor missions like the Ancestor Pedigree by Birth Locations.  And then that got me thinking that I should make one to reflect education levels, and one for who I have photos of, and one for who I have any type of recorded story of, and well, you know how that line of thinking goes.

 

Have a great weekend, I hope you make an amazing genealogy discovery today!


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Awesome Genealogy Interruption

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My oldest boy got a big white envelope in the mail yesterday containing a mission call!!  That envelope totally changed the rest of my day in a happy way.  If you are reading this you are most likely a genealogist and understand when I say I had some chores to do before the crowd arrived.  😉

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We had a map for everyone to guess where he might be going.  After everyone had arrived (lots and lots and lots of kids and some family members and neighbors) we called all the grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles that wanted to be on speaker phone and he opened his call.

My oldest son, that little 2 lb. 8 1/2 ounce baby, is going to spend two years in the Columbia, South Carolina Mission.  He will be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and serving the people of South Carolina.  He reports to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on August 17th.

I do not know how to express my joy.  So many happy feels at my house!

If you are curious about what an LDS missionary does, this short video gives a great, basic explanation.

If you are curious about what Mormons believe you can learn a little bit here.

I hope your Friday is as joyful as mine!!