Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflecting on 2010

Happy New Year! Every new year, I feel simultaneously excited and melancholy. I'm excited about the coming year and the opportunities to grab hold of. However, I am always melancholy as I reflect over the year and what didn't happen for whatever reason, or things that did happen that were not on my list. So 2010 is no exception.

I started 2010 optimistic. I was deep in my search for my grandmother, and I decided that I needed to take some creative workshops. I did take some creative workshops - drawing, soldering, metal etching. They were all fun and well worth it.

I also began to get quite good at researching my ancestors and finding living descendants of them. That was both scary and exciting. I reached out to several and that has proven valuable. To date, no one I've established contact with knows anything about Lola. I found the living people once I found obituaries. I would then search on-line obits and Facebook. I even found someone via her website. I have received some pictures of two of Lola's brothers and am anxiously awaiting pictures of Lola's father, George!

In summary, the living people I've been lucky enough to find and establish contact with follow:

NM - A fourth cousin of my dad. She is a descendant of great great great (is that right) grandmother Leah. Leah was the mother of Wells and Wells was the father of Effie (my very interesting great grandmother) and Effie was Lola's mother. This woman had been searching Effie's family for her tree and gave me a lot of information that I was then able to run with.

WP - Her grandfather Adolph and Lola's brother William (aka Bill) were both adopted by the same family in Iowa. Turns out, WP and my sis and I were all looking for Bill. Bill outlived his first two wives and was survived by his third wife. Once I had the names of the wives, I began the search and found three people.

Bills' second wife Edith had a brother Arthur. Arthur had a son Charles and a son AS. I found Charles' obit and found his daughter via Facebook. She gave me contact info for AS. We have talked on the phone and I have sent him pictures. Will need to re-establish contact with him in the new year.

Bill's third wife Ann had a sister Ellen. They were very close. Once I discovered (thanks to WP's detective work) that Ellen was now gone, I found Ellen's daughter and had the opportunity to meet her earlier in 2010. We shared stories and pictures and she gave me pictures of Bill and Ann. She also sent me some pictures from their wedding day. Turns out, AS and Charles were in the pictures.

LB - Lola's brother George died in 1968. He had lived in Chicago and my sister thought it would be good to search newspaper archives for Chicago to see if we could find an obit for George. Score! We did and it mentioned George's daughter Betty and her husband. I then searched for Betty and her husband (Google search) and found Betty's husband's obituary. The kids were listed and a Google search led to LB's business website. I called her on Easter Sunday! I know that was a call that truly caught her off guard but we remain in touch via Facebook, as I do with WP and some others I've yet to mention.

BB - BB's mother was my dad's aunt Edna. Edna was Red's younger sister. I was going through boxes of photos that I had taken from my parents' home and came across a Christmas card. This card was from Edna and contained a handwritten letter. In this letter, Edna mentions her daughters, Edna Mae and BB. Well, I immediately googled them and found that Edna Mae had passed away in 1999 just a few months before her mother Edna did. I found BB on Facebook and made contact with her. She has pictures and I can't wait to meet her and go through the pictures. You see, her mother Edna lived in (or was visiting) my grandparents in Iowa in 1920 and was on the census that year as being in the household. I know some of the old pictures I do have of my dad as a toddler came from Edna.

GJ - GJ's mother Rosetta and Lola were first cousins. I was doing some research via Findagrave and began to find Rosetta's family in the database. Rosetta's mother Grace, was Effie's sister. My sister and I reached out and have established contact with him. I was able to send him several newspaper articles on his mother and his aunts. He also offered to escort me to cemeteries when I make my trip to Illinois. I was supposed to go in 2010, but really wanted to make contact with people before going. Now that I've established contact with several people, I need to wait until the spring when the weather is more conducive to travelling.

MD - MD's paternal grandmother was Effie's sister, Edna. I knew from the obituaries of Effie and her parents (Wells and Emma), that Edna and her family lived in Laramie, Wyoming and that one of Edna's sons, Everett, died in 1943 in Northern California but was buried in Wyoming. On a whim, I searched the message boards for Laramie and Cheyenne, WY and found that someone had posted an offer to take pictures of headstones in cemeteries there, so I replied. Well that was a good decision. This woman Kathy not only took photos, but went to her library and found obituaries for Edna, Edna's husband and other family members! She was just amazing. One of Edna's daughters had a son who lives in Southern California. I found him on Facebook and sent him a message. His daughter MD contacted me and we are now in touch.

LB - Lola's father George remarried a woman named Grace. I'm not exactly sure when they married but do know that they were on the 1930 census as spouses. Grace was a widow and mother of two daughters, Katherine and Mary. One day I began a google search of Mary and much to my amazement, I found an on-line family tree that gave the name of Mary's daughter and her sons! I couldn't believe my luck. I found then one of the sons on Facebook and one on Ancestry (he had the start of a family tree). My sister reached out via Ancestry and I did via Facebook. Contact was made and LB and I have emailed and talked on the phone. She just sent me an email and told me that her cousin (Katherine's daughter) found an old black and white photo of "grandpa"! I can't wait to see that!

DL - Lola's sister Bessie married a man named Ben. I am still trying to determine when Ben died but did begin to focus on Ben's family. Bessie's 1976 obit listed two of Ben's nieces (Grace and Lillian) as Bessie's survivors. I began to focus on them and found tons of articles and names. That led to my finding a great granddaughter of Grace and a grandson of Lillian. Contact and communication has been happening, but slow. DL has an aunt in Illinois that knows of Bessie and thinks she has pictures. He is going to look into that!

So, eventful researching, yet still nothing on Lola. I have hope that someone knows something.

I also took a business trip in July to the Gulf of Mexico. I spent one week in Pensacola, FL and one week in Mobile, AL. That was busy and interesting. The other work thing that happened was I stepped into a new role, one that I've struggled with. I was quite content with my previous role and was looking forward to expanding that.

I finally listed items in the Etsy shop I opened in 2009! So far, I've only had two sales and must now focus on marketing so that I can get more sales. I also need to list more art as right now I don't have much in my shop.

I also made contact with some cousins on Red's side of the family. They also have pictures, so I can't wait to go through those. They just might have pictures of Lola and do not know who she is.

Towards the end of 2010, three of my contemporaries (a former co-worker, the son of a colleague, and a high school classmate) died. This hit me rather hard and has really made me think about my life and consider how I must make changes in order to really live life and not just "go through the motions". I am becoming more aware of the fact that I don't have my whole life ahead of me any longer and need to stop wasting it.

I also had a milestone birthday. I turned 50! Had a blast really. Some friends threw a fun-filled birthday bash for me. I haven't had a birthday party in so long that I really enjoyed it. I forgot how much fun they are.

Overall, 2010 was good. Many discoveries and challenges. I keep reading that everything is in right order. This is in spiritual literature, by the way. So, does this mean that my work challenge is supposed to be? Does this mean I was just too complacent and this is going to make me take inventory of my life? I think so.

Here's to looking forward to 2011 and what it has in store for me.

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