An Almost TragedyMarch 4, 2009 at 11:01 | Posted in genealogy | Leave a comment
Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family research, genealogy, joy, missing family members, pets, special animals
Last week I almost lost an ancestor – or at least the proof she was ours. It was a frustrating experience but it was “only” paper technically. She had been dead over 150 years and no one I know knew her while she was alive – matter of fact most did not know she personally existed ever. Sure, they knew someone was married to great great grandfather but no one ever thought about it before. Now they are more interested.
This week a friend called many times from out of state. We live several states apart and we see one another rarely. We originally met right here “online’ in the vast Internet world. It was (gasp…) over ten years ago already in the then so new chat room environment. And from ‘chatting’ and then sharing online IMs and online bible studies, we graduated to phone calls and then to the actual face to face meetings! Sure wouldn’t recommend that scenario to anyone anymore knowing what we all know about online predators now! But I digress – sorry! She phoned because her elderly and not healthy Mom had gotten on a bus to the other side of the US and did not arrive when and where expected to!
I could hear the pain in my friend’s voice and feel her panic. She tried calling bus station after bus station across the country seeking any snippet of information or at least some advice. It was little to none. All I could do from this distance was pray and try to offer words of comfort that seemed so empty. We could complain about the lack of responses and this could bring us to new causes to embrace such as authorities listening to a family sooner rather than later when even an adult is missing.
It brought back painful memories of a visit from my mother in law many years ago. She was in her eighties traveling from Italy to Boston to visit family. She would spend 6 weeks in Maine with family there and then make a flight from Boston to Orlando to visit us. Family drove down to Boston to meet her flight. My husband was not at home – he had gone to help a friend a few miles from us for the afternoon when the phone call came. Mama had not gotten off the plane in Boston. A quick check with the ticketing agents showed she did not make the connecting flight from NYC. Family was near panic level. The first step was to gather up Val and get him back to the house to inform him – a not so pleasant task. And then everyone waited for me to spring into action. I called the airline and got nothing in response. Then I tried to phone the Airport Authority – seemed logical that police would search the airport for her. What a foolish assumption that was! So I began a series of phone calls to first the corporate headquarters of the airline – it was a weekend but I left voice messages with every executive’s answering service I could. And then I began calling every airline ticketing agent I could think of and beg them to contact agents in NY. About two hours into this the phone call came. A Delta agent saw an elderly woman sitting on a suitcase crying. She took the time to speak to her – the agent spoke Spanish and Mama spoke only Italian but they understood each other relatively well considering. Mama had our names and phone number – soon she was on the phone crying with her son in Florida! Then this agent got her on a flight to Boston to family – pretty remarkable considering her original tickets were not with Delta. The next morning we received several phone calls and apologies along with restitution from the original airline (no longer in business interestingly enough). Tragedy averted. About the same length of time elapsed for my friend and she too finally heard welcome news. Mom had also missed a connection – or at least it ran behind what everyone thought. Another tragedy averted.
And then there was last night. I am babysitting – or actually dog-sitting – for vacationing elderly parents. Their dog is a huge beautiful black standard poodle. She is a love bug and a half with one bad bad habit that no one has broken her of. She sees an open door and bolts for it – and she is gone! Yesterday I went out for a bit. Upon returning home I saw my front door wide open in the cold weather here – not normal for us by any stretch! Seems the sons had gone out and not closed the door tightly and wind blew it open. Misty was gone! After frantic phone calls, all four sons appeared to help search. Poor husband drove back and forth up and down the streets as did the sons. We walked the neighborhood calling her name. No one was reporting her seen even. It was looking uglier by the moment. As I walked, I phoned my friend and asked for prayer – realizing it was not like her Mom missing but this was not going to be easy to tell my Mom about! Misty is a vital integral part of my elderly parents’ lives. Most conversations always include something Misty did or was doing as we spoke. We’ve even been appointed her guardians if and when something happens to my parents. They did not want her going to an animal shelter naturally. After about three hours I was spent emotionally and physically. I collapsed on the couch in tears when one of my son’s friends came in the house calling me. “Mom – why is Misty running loose out here? She won’t come to me!” Sure enough – there she was cowering behind a neighbor’s car. Once she saw it was me, she went crazy jumping and yelping and wagging her tail! Tragedy averted! Again!
But – this got me to thinking. What important places of honor our pets are to us! Did our ancestors also have favorite animals? The cattle baron must have had a favorite breeder. Or how about the poor farmer? What importance did his best milker hold for his family? Did the shepherd have a special dog that worked the herds with him? Or did grandma have a favorite cat that slept at her feet near the fire on cold wintry nights while she read or knitted? How many of us have added that special animal to the family genealogy? Even though not technically a relative, they were sure to be a part of the family and certainly played a role in family history. I am going to go back and devise special pages for these beloved creatures. I want to share a bit of their history with future generations in order to share a more complete family view. How about your families? Did they have some special members that deserve to be included?