google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Moment You Knew | The Armchair Genealogist

The Moment You Knew


For me it came as a revelation, after a series of tragic events.
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First, my husband’s father passed away suddenly as a result of a heart attack. There were no signs. My husband and I were busy living our lives, both working heavy hours, raising two children. Our girls were busy as well, school and dance. However, on October 31st, 2004, my father-in-law sat up in bed, collapsed to the floor. We were shaken to our core.

We pushed through the next year. We returned to our busy life styles, a little stunned and bewildered.

Eighteen months later, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. The last year had been difficult for her, without her husband of 50 years. She gave up, there was no fight and she passed away 6 weeks later.

That was the moment I knew. That was moment I knew I needed to make time for the more important things in life. I didn’t know then it would be my family history. I knew my family needed to become more of a priority. I had the luxury of becoming a stay-at-home Mom.

I left my 60 hour a week job as a restaurant manager and went home to be a full-time mother and wife. It was during my time at home I started seeking those stories of my ancestors. The deaths of my in-laws had pushed me to start asking those questions, interviewing the living and committing to writing a family history book. The frailty of the last year and half had brought me to the realization there was so much I wanted to know about my own history, my own ancestors, I wanted to write those stories.

So much was lost when my husband’s parents died. I had never expected to lose them so quickly. I thought I had time. It changed me forever. So many questions were never asked and never answered. I didn’t want that to be the case with my own family.

That is how I became hooked on genealogy. That is why the stories of my ancestors are so very important to me and that is why I started this blog and decided to share my enthusiasm and knowledge. Now I am on a journey I never could have predicted. Funny how life happens that way.

As I approach the 7th anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing, I can look back now and see how and why I got here. Have you looked back at your own travels, how did you come to this place in your genealogy journey?

When did you know?

I think many of us have such a passion for this work that we see it as something we have to do. We would be lost without it.  When did you know that researching your family history was going to be something you needed to do? Was there a single experience that motivated your research, was it a culmination of events, or perhaps you always knew.

What is your story – what is the moment you knew?

11 comments:

  1. I knew when Grandma died. Its so sad, isn't it, that many of us discover this passion because of a death to someone close to us?
    RIP Elsie Helen (Tober) Brown.

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  2. Great post Lynn! So sorry for the loss of your in-laws.

    I started my family history research after my grandfather passed away. (oh, why did it have to be after he passed? I could have asked him so many questions.)

    And yes, I can't imagine not being involved in this great work of family history!

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  3. I knew when we visited my husband's aging cousins after the last family reunion. As we viewed the video of Hester's 100th Birthday celebration, and talked about family, Hattie questioned me about how Cedric and I met and about our kids. The story of our youngest daughter's death came out, and before we left that day Hattie made me promise her that I would write all these stories into a book...or several books. I made the promise. Nine months later Hattie died. The next day her older sister Mattie died. One month to the day of Mattie's death, their sister Hester also passed. All the family history went with them, and now I must explore the unanswered questions and write those stories.

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  4. I've always quipped that 'if I didn't look so much like my family I'd swear I was adopted'. I've never felt connected to them.

    Then I met my husband. He had so much amazing family history. From outstanding military careers, an actress, doctors of major reputation and accomplishment - and stories. Some of them a little far fetched. So I started trying to prove one of the stories that had always fascinated my husband but which he thought might not be true.

    In helping my husband document his family I became more interested in my own. I have been both elated and devastated by the things that I have found. But I continue to search. We all come from somewhere. We can never truly know ourselves if we ignore our past.

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  5. My grandfathers were gone before I was 6 and both grandmothers were not in the best of health and gone by the time I was 13. There were no first cousins, so, I am a part of the always knew camp. Always needed the connection to family and researching them fulfills that need.

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  6. So sad that it takes the loss of someone dear to prompt us to make a change.
    My Mum died suddenly 6 years ago. I then discovered that I was pregnant with my youngest son. I was mortified that they'd never know each other.
    I resolved to do something about it and I did! I preserved her memory and created a website where other families can do the same thing as a legacy for their kids. It's good to focus on our own stories, whilst we're still living.
    (website link can be found on my Blog)

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  7. I'm glad you are giving voice to this subject! I can empathize with you completely. It took a 10-year period for me to know, when between 1992 and 2002 I lost my mother, father, aunt, little sister (she was 46), and shortly afterwards my husband's mother. By 2004 I was traveling to South Carolina to re-connect with my cousins, write a family memoir, and dig into genealogy. With family research, it's possible to embrace life's transitory nature. It feels and is productive.

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  8. I knew when I realized that my Mom was the LAST of her family of origin. Why didn't I know the others?

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  9. I first knew when I was about 10 years old and spent time with my grandmother and great grandmother learning to do needlework, a tradition among the females in our family line, I was then told. This led to conversations about several of these crafty ancestors. Because of my interest, my g-grandmother gave me 3 quilts passed down through the family. One was the first quilt done by my ggg-grandmother around 1850! I started to write down the names, fascinated by the little stories and gossip. I held onto that rudimentary "tree" with 20 names for a very long time. After those dear ladies passed on, I inherited the role of "keeper" of the family knowledge. Now the latest modern version of that tree has over 4100 people in it and I have many more stories to share with my granddaughter while I teach her needleart. I have even found a sampler pattern of a family member's original work!

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  10. My interest in genealogy started much earlier. It was actually when I was in the fourth grade in school. Our teacher was teaching us a family history unit so we were told to ask our parents where our ancestors came from. I asked my mother and she didn't know and said we didn't have any. I was a teacher pleaser and was crushed that I didn't have anything to share with the class. From that day on it sparked my interest in genealogy. I so wanted to have ancestors like everyone else! I truly believe that family history should be required in school. It would make history so much more meaningful to students when they know their ancestors actually lived it and was a part of it.

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  11. When I was younger I spent alot of time with grandparents and if I was bored, I'd ask them to tell me a story about when they were a little boy or girl. When I went to my grandmother's funeral, I was again bored, and out of college but I asked her siblings and cousins about their lives growing up. I wrote it in a tiny notebook that I save for 27 years, when I learned about computer programs to keep track of all that. My other grandmother was in her 90s, so I asked her tons of questions. The start of an obession.

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