Oldest son Richard flew in from San Diego last week for a gathering at the Navy Yard. As usual he got together with David and me, and his sister Connie, for a meal at Connie’s favorite Thai restaurant. Beforehand Richard had come by our house where he spottted the growing pile of gifts for Granddaughter Rita. Goodness, he said and laughed. I told him this is why they call us GREAT grandmothers.
All my children are now in their fifties. Connie, the oldest and soon to be a grandmother, will be fifty-five in the fall. Seems strange to see my kids with white hair, but there they are, siting across the table from me complaining about medical issues not unlike friends my age. Where did the time go?
Meanwhile, I continue to work on my family tree. Re-read material concerning her family tree I had received from Aunt Audrey, including letters she wrote before artthritis stayed her hand. “I wish I had done this in my forties,” she says in one letter. Having plowed through much material over the past few years, I can concur.
I began my search for information about my family decades ago. This is a huge undertaking.
This past week, I have been working on mom’s paternal grandmother’s tree, which takes me back to the 1700s. Great-Grandmother’s (MP2*) name was Lena. Lena migrated from a village on one of the outer islands in Zeeland, (Zieikzee in Schouwen-Duiveland**).
Finding Lena’s last name was a bit tricky. She arrived from Antwerp on the Josephine in mid-nineteenth century, a passenger in steerage speaking little English with a ten-month old baby in her arms, a husband and six children. The Immigration officer at Ellis Island spelled her name Maij, other later records spell it de Maij. Still others spell it Dag or Day. Turns out it was probably Day all along. Written in cursive, ‘y’ sometimes looks like’ij.’ remember how the teacher told us to ’round our loops’ when we took penmanship? Well it matters. Cursive matters.
I loaded seven more bags of books into sacks for a trip to Goodwill, including many art history books, two by a Dutch artist, Piet Portvliet, whose father’s family came from the same area of Zeeland (Island of Tholen) as my mother’s father’s father’s family.
Portvliet tracked his family back to the 1600s by drawing sketches concerning the way he thought the everyday life of each looked. His books are a work of love and very illuminating. They make me grateful for running water and laws against animal abuse as well as cruel and unusual punishment of humans.
Portvliet stopped with the 1600s because, he says, the Nazis bombed all the older records (before 1600) to smithereens in WWII. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know the Nazis blew Rotterdam to hell. I also know Aunt Audrey found material in The Hague about her family that dates back to the 1500s.
Years ago, a couple of fellow enthusiasts at the Census Bureau told me that researching past the 1400s is difficult, because of the Black Death.
I don’t know how far back I will go in my geneology quest, but I have found that the English, Dutch and German records are all pretty extensive.
Thank goodness Spring is almost here.
Surgery yesterday for another melanoma (number 7). Dr. says it’s genetic in my case. My osteo guy cancelled my appointment tomorrow…the weather in the 70s and sunny, I imagine he will be on the golf course.
Now, I’m off to walk my dogs. Will be around to visit blog friends today and tomorrow.
**Schouwen and Duiveland were poldered together and lie behind the huge dikeworks begun after the flood of 1953.
*MP2 = Mother’s father’s great-grandmother