|My mother (middle) and her sisters around the time we moved far away.|
For me, I always lived far away from living relatives. So, I cherished every phone call, letter, and vacation (which were also very rare). I greatly enjoyed stories of my cousin Adam who played football for Navy and then was a fighter pilot. I ADORED my Aunt Shelley who was so loving and tender. I loved my Grannie's laugh and smile, and the silly things that made her laugh in the first place. But I never really 'knew' my distant relatives.
When my mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 70s, she was motivated to start doing family history work. As I grew up, she'd share the few stories about my Zumstein great-grandparents and the family that lived in St. Catherine's, Ontario, Canada that she had discovered. I suppose she whet my palette and developed my hunger to know more.
In high school, I was asked to do a family history project, and I began to do some things on my own. I struggled because so much of the information I needed was in Ohio and Canada when I lived far down south. Yet, I hungered to learn more. Unfortunately, the frustration of distance, cost, and lack of technology associated with genealogy made it take a backseat after I finished my high school project. Or, it could be that I went to college and, well, a lot of things took a backseat.
After I married my husband, technology had improved and I pursued genealogy again. It wasn't until my father died in 2004, that I was fully taken. What happened is that I felt free to explore his family. He had disowned his family in life. But with him in the afterlife, I felt free to connect with his aunts, cousin, etc (he was an only child and his parents were deceased). Morbidly odd feeling, but it was the match that ignited the fire.
So, I began cautiously reaching out to my father's only surviving aunt. I simply asked for the family history of my parents and grandparents. I didn't want to get involved with what caused the family rift. I knew NOTHING on that side of the family and I desperately wanted to know more than a name on a family group sheet. My sweet great-aunt courageously let me ask the questions and relive her memories of her loved ones. She shared pictures with me, stories, and her voice on tape. It was an exciting time.
|Evaline (Peak) Geiszler and her children in the 1920s. A photo I never|
would have seen had I not contacted my great-aunt (the girl pictured in the middle front)
Since my great-aunt was willing to open up the family tree, I felt I could pursue more relations with other distant relatives. It has been an AMAZING journey and it's not even barely started. THANKFULLY, technology has come along way since I was in high school. I have had access to so many records and research that was not available before. That has also been a clincher for keeping me hooked.
So where do I go from here?
I keep looking into the people and places so I can attempt my best effort to tell the stories of my ancestors to my children. I want them to be as real as the super heroes in their children's stories. I'm glad I found this calling in life.