With the loss of my dad just over a year ago, I realized that my family is dwindling and with that is the opportunity to learn more about my family heritage. As it stands, I have one cousin left on my mom’s side and a cousin and uncle on my dad’s side plus my 2 brothers and of course, I am now at the age where I want to know more about my family history & heritage. However, it looks like I’m on my own to find the answers because unfortunately, my family was so private, nobody left knows much more than I do.
As an adult, I saw my dad only once or twice a year, because I lived in Canada and let’s be real, life is busy with 3 little ones. But, over the past 7 years before my dad died, I was able to spend some considerable and quality time with him and I chose to spend some of it asking him about our family. My parents divorced when I was about 12 and mom and dad had a difficult separation which unfortunately trickled down to my brothers and me. We didn’t see my dad as often as I would have liked and although I don’t know why she made the decision to limit our access with him, I am sure my mom had her own valid reasons and she thought she was doing the best she could for us kids. Isn’t that what a mom is supposed to do? How can I be mad at her for that? Sadly, our mom passed away when she was only 42 years old, so I never got a chance to tell her I understand and that I loved her for trying to protect us. She didn’t even get the chance to see her youngest son grow up to be an amazing man nor to see her first born son work his way to become a successful electrical engineer or to be a part of her grandchildren’s life, all which still makes me sad. After she passed away, I wanted to re-establish a relationship with my dad, but he was still hurt about my mom leaving him and, in his eyes, ripping his children from his life. He wasn’t just hurt, he was angry. And because mom was gone, he was angry with us kids, even though we had nothing to do with it, after all, we were just kids – I was 12 and my brothers were 9 & 6 at the time of their divorce. I decided that I needed to find a way to have a relationship with my dad even though we had all been hurting for years and that is what I did, and I am so glad that I was able to spend some time with him. We laughed, we cried, and we talked about things, some heavy things and some lighthearted things, which was a big deal because my dad was not one for touchy feely stuff, but I persevered and before I knew it, I had my dad back. He never said it out loud, but I could see in his eyes that the hurt he felt, fell away slowly over the years. It was worth the effort for both of us.
Anyway, I was able to get a few details from him such as names of his grandparents (which I vaguely remember my grandma talking about when I was younger) and some things about their family life growing up but I really started to learn details after he passed away and I was going through his things. I found an amazing scrapbook that my grandma made him. To say she was proud of her baby boy would be a gross understatement. Both my dad and his brother were athletes. My dad got a football scholarship to Colorado State University, he was a track star in his day (which believe me, I heard about many many times throughout my years) and he was a rodeo guy (calf roping was his event) and my grandma kept every single newspaper article that was written (and there were a lot of them) about him and his brother. Amongst the papers, which included a small family tree page with names and birth dates as well as some death certificates and marriage certificates, I found
pictures that he had that were my grandma’s and I felt as if I had hit the ancestry jackpot! There were beautiful old photographs of my grandma’s aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and even their dog. It was such a treat to have a rare glimpse into her private childhood and I felt honored to have these family treasures in my possession.
After my dad passed away and I had some time to go through the things, I found out that my youngest brother was named after a great grandmother and uncle and my other brother was named after my dad and grandfather, but what about me? I have no clue where my name came from and once when I asked my dad, he said we liked it, that was the explanation I got?! Seriously? I was the first born so don’t you think if anyone was to be named after family, it should have been me? Apparently not. I also found both of my brothers birth certificates but not my own…….I was beginning to question if I was the one who was adopted………..maybe it’s my Karma from teasing my brothers that they were adopted all those years. Just kidding, I finally found my birth certificate and given the fact that every once in a while, my dad’s attitude falls out of my mouth there is no question who my father is. Anyway, I decided that I was ready to continue to try to track down my family heritage. So, I bought a subscription to Ancestry.com, ordered myself a DNA kit (with the hopes that I may find a cousin or a brother or a sister that we weren’t aware of lol) and got to work. Really, I was hoping to find some family that I could speak to about having MS and trying to figure out if anyone else suffers from this disease (which has not happened to date). But, I found myself getting more and more invested in the process each time one of those little green leafs popped up with hints to either more family members or documents or pictures of my family. I’m telling you, it’s an addictive past time!
That isn’t the most exciting part though, my husband is actually the one who is making real headway on my family history hunt. He has now tracked my family lineage to the
1400’s, that’s 400 more years than what I have accomplished. The most exciting part of this is that I am related to one of the Duke’s of Burgundy (Philip the Good to be exact), who was also the King of France. Philip the Good was the Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death. During his reign, Burgundy reached the peak of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading center for the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Gilles Binchois, and the capture of Joan of Arc. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty’s position. As ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played a key role in the history of the Low Countries. Now granted, I have only heard of Holland, but that’s still pretty cool anyway. I should have paid more attention in History and Geography class I guess.
My husband also went so far as to check out what a lineal descendant is: in legal usage it is a blood relative in the direct line of descent – the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. of a person. A lineal descendant is a direct descendant of a person. A person in direct line of blood relationship following downwards from an individual concerned, starting from his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Because my lineage (ok, my brothers too) starts with our mom, through our grandpa to his mom, through her mom and then through six more generations. Then through a spouse of our great (many times) grandfather who was one of the daughters of Philip the good, who by the way, had presumably 24 wives and mistresses. Busy guy, but the bottom line is that I am a direct descendent, therefore I am an actual Princess (at least in my mind). So, my need for a crown is real, that’s all I have to say! I don’t care how far back that is, a princess is a princess is a princess.
It’s just been fun to follow our ancestry through the years and the countries – at another time, I will fill you in on what I found going through my father’s side of the family. Who else has done their DNA through ancestry and did you find anything surprising??
Thanks for stopping in today!