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Monday, 18 January 2010

A Tulip Story

By Judy Watten

My neighbor, Tony, often teases me about my hobby of genealogy. I found some information about his dad and he said, “Remember, this is your hobby and not mine. Don’t get carried away.”

Then his mom became terminally ill and was moved to a nursing home. There was a discussion among family members about her age. One person said she’s older than I am and another said, no, she’s younger. I couldn’t resist helping to settle this dispute after learning Tony’s mom was born in London.

Most of my family history research has been in England so all I had to do to get her birth certificate was write to my researcher in England.

She looked through the British national index of births, which has been kept since mid-1837. She found Tony’s mom, Sylvia, and ordered the certificate. British birth certificates have the following information: date and place of birth, baby’s name, father’s name, father’s occupation, mother’s name, mother’s maiden name, and name and address of informant and the date of the birth registration.

Tony’s mother had been born in London in 1914. Her dad was a violinist and director of a musical theatre.

When I got Sylvia’s birth certificate, I became curious about her mom’s maiden name. On a whim I searched for it on a web site called genesreunited.com. I was startled to find there was someone who was looking for Tony's mother's family. I wrote him, “I live next door to her grandson!” He was so surprised.

He was a great grandson of Tony’s grandmother’s brother, had just posted his information on the web two days earlier and was new to genealogy research.

He sent me Tony’s grandmother’s 1913 wedding picture. I was so excited. I printed out the picture and went next door to Tony’s. Tony was stunned. “I know those people,” he said. And he went on to say that he had a photo from the wedding but not the same one and had never known for sure whose wedding it was. Now he knew they were his grandparents.

It turned out that Tony’s “new” cousin, Jeff, was born in Wales, lived near Amsterdam in the Netherlands, was married to a woman from Spain and they had a son. Before I found Jeff, he and his family had planned a trip to California, a place they had always wanted to visit. Jeff had no idea he had family in California when he bought his plane tickets. Everyone was overjoyed.

Meanwhile, Tony’s sister was on a trip in Europe and visited Jeff in Holland. Tony helped his new cousins with their itinerary so they could make the best use of their California travel time. When they got to San Francisco, Tony went to the City and had lunch with the three of them.

A few days later, Jeff and family drove to our house where Tony had cooked a special dinner for them. We were guests too. They were a loving and interesting family — we were all comfortable together from the first moment. Their adventurous son was planning a trip to Australia. In fact, we had such a good time we all forgot to take pictures.

And now we arrive at the tulip part of the story.

To thank me, they had brought a package of Dutch tulip bulbs for our garden. I kept them in the refrigerator for six weeks to winterize them and then planted them, about two dozen in the garden and a dozen or so in a large planter.

They began to bud and bloom in February and at the end of March 2009, they were all blooming gloriously. Most were yellow with splashes of red and some were white with red. Every day I admired them and remembered the odyssey that brought them to our garden.

Tony and Jeff and I are still writing each other. The saga continues as Jeff is planning a research trip to Warsaw to learn more about their other ancestors.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Loved your story, well told, and fun to read.
I too have enjoyed 'eureka' moments and meetings with unexpected cousins.
I called a man in Florida who had about given up on finding his grandfather, and told the startled man that our grandfathers were/had been/ brothers, and shared what information I had gathered with him.

Judy - What a great story!

I have been addicted to genealogy for about 25 years. I tried your genesreunited.com (Which I had never heard of) this morning, and I found several promising leads for a Scottish ancestor born in the mid-1700's, that has had me stumped for a long time.

Thanks for the story and the site! - Sandy

My sister is researching our ancestors through Genealogy and it is fascinating. She has traced out maternal great grandmother's family back to a knight that came to England with William the Conqueror.

Yours is a wonderful story well told.

I'm pretty sure he won't ever tease you again!! What great detective work you did.

This is for Sandy who mentioned that she was able to further her family history research at genesreunited.com mentioned in my story. If you or anyone else here in these comments would like to write to me about genealogy, I would be glad to help if I could. I'm just an amateur but, you never know!
Judy RayJudyW@aol.com

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