My mom likes puzzles. For her, the biggest puzzle of all is tracking down those that have come before her. For as long as I can remember, my mother has been obsessed with finding her “roots”. She and my grandmother would write back and forth to each other, sharing facts, offering suggestions and just trying to solve the puzzle. One of my earliest memories is watching Mom carefully open a white envelope containing a letter from my grandma, then sitting down with her worn spiral-bound steno notepad to down new names and dates. Then she would mutter to herself as she struggled to make the connections between family relations. Every once in a while, she would get excited and shout “aha!” when she made some sort of discovery.
When Mom knew she had a clue she would write a letter to the county clerk of some far-off exotic place like Michigan or North Dakota, asking them to search for and send her a copy of whatever record she needed. It could be anything from a death or birth certificate, a marriage license or military records. She would always include a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a crisp dollar bill or two to cover any fees. Often times, the letter (and the dollar bills) would come back with a handwritten apology at not being able to find the requested records. Mom would be heartbroken, yet still determined. Every once in a while, the returned letter would contain the elusive record that Mom had been searching for. Those were the days that Mom danced with joy up and down the hall.
A month or so ago, one of my cousins contacted Mom through Facebook asking her for some family information. In the blink of an eye, Mom’s interest in genealogy was back in full force. Luckily for her, the days of sending off letters, then waiting months for any sort of response were long gone.
Mom dug out her ancient genealogy software and quickly determined that it was much too old to be of any use. So she made a quick trip to the store, where she gleefully plopped down her money and ran home with a brand new Family Tree Maker software. Then she stayed up all night playing with it.
Yesterday was the first time I chatted with my mother since she got her new tool. She was so excited about her new discoveries that she could barely speak. She bragged that could find county records instantly with her new software. All she needed was to know what to look up.
Mom decided that she needed to show me how wonderful her new, improved software really was. So, she looked up my marriage certificate. She couldn’t find it. As she had complete faith in her software, the natural conclusion was that I was never married.
Huh…for the last twenty-one years I thought I was married. As my mother always tell me, she’s always right, I must be wrong and have been living a lie. I can’t help but wonder what other facts that that miraculous software is going to find out about me…