My parents were never ones to talk a lot about family history – I’m pretty sure I’d remember more if they did. But about once a year I find myself asking these repeated questions that I don’t have answers to. Call it morbid if you chose, but my latent fear has been not knowing my family’s history before the history-bearers die.
So for a class project, I’m supposed to write my racial autobiography, which opened the door to engaging this conversation, again, with my parents. I swear my mother has got to wonder why I ask some of these details yet can never retain the knowledge. I e-mailed her this evening and within an hour I had some answers. And a problem.
Apparently my father and I have differing memories of some (okay, a lot) of his family history. His mother died when I was 16, so I certainly could have some details wrong, but I’ve always had a razor-sharp memory (though certainly not for those useful details on history tests). My dad swears that my grandmother only had two siblings. I swear that she had 3 deceased siblings back in Italy who never even ventured on the boat over to America. I asked 3 times that my mom push him, “are you sure, Michael?” “Yes.”
The minor detail here, however, is I have no way in which I can win this argument. He’s older, he’s kinda had more time to deal with this history. I, on the other hand, am just that crazy daughter of yours who spent countless weekends watching every single soap opera on television from 12:30 – 4:00 pm with that woman for how many years, dude? Oh right. This same Italian grandmother made me memorize recipes to pasta and bread when I was 6, showed me where keys to important documents were that I needed, because as she put it, my father would just get rid of them. PS – He did before I ever had a chance to go over there. Don’t get me started on that detail.
Oh and then there’s my mother’s family – the great-great-great-great-we-think-it’s-uncle John Morton – you know, 7th signer from PA on the Declaration of Independence. Yeah. Too bad we can’t quite figure that lil’ detail out, now, eh? 🙂 Oh, and I found on the geneology documents from my mom (all handwritten pages from great-great-grandparents, mind you) that there was this relative of mine named – wait for it – wait for it
Alexander Hamilton. Family from St. Croix. Oh and he was married to a woman. Named Elizabeth. Met in South Carolina.
But my mom swears its just coincidence that all the details measure up. I think she’s in denial.