Confessions of a Genealogist

A version of this post originally appeared on April 13, 2013, at the In-Depth Genealogist

I have been thinking about my grandmother, Eva Zielinski Morgan, a lot lately.  She died April 18, 2011, at the age of 101+.  She would have been 102 that June.

As I was thinking of all the family information she told me over the years (and taking my walk down memory lane), it hit me:

I screwed up.  Big Time.

What was I thinking?  Will my family forgive me?  Will I be able to mend my evil ways?
Oh the guilt that I have!

The first thing that I must do is to confess my genealogical sins…

I didn’t write most of the stories down.  Yeah, I can hear the moans and groans as you are reading this.

Don’t get me wrong – I wrote down names and dates when I got them and even worked on the family history with my aunt – but the stories?

She told them at random times and…and…I just thought I would remember them.

In some cases, I dismissed them. They seemed uneventful or not very colorful to me, so out of my mind they went.

Until now.

I used to talk to her every week (she lived 5+ hours away). While talking on the phone with her was frustrating for most family members (she couldn’t hear them) she had no trouble with me. I guess the tone of my voice was not a problem for her and I also didn’t shout to be heard.

During the last 8 months of her life, we moved her to another facility. This facility did not have phones in their rooms, so my contact with her was limited. One March evening, I received a phone call from my cousin stating that my grandmother was hard to wake up over the weekend, but that she seemed to be fine at the time of the call. I saw this as a warning sign, as my grandmother was only a few months shy of 102!

The very next day, I drove to see her and spent a week with her. It was one of the best things that I have ever done. She was blessed with being in pretty darn good health and being very sharp for her age.

GustyI had a distant cousin send me an e-mail during that time, trying to find out who a certain woman was in a picture. I recognized the woman as also being in an album of my grandmother’s. I didn’t hesitate the next morning:

“Grandma, who was Gusty’?”


“No, Gusty, with a ‘G’ as in Grandma.”

She proceeded to tell me who she was.

I realized that Gusty was a 1st cousin to my grandmother.

All this at the age of 101+!

That is why I am confessing. She was bright and chipper until she died.
I missed a tremendous opportunity! I so should have known better. I am the keeper of all things family. I’ve been doing this a long time. I had 16 years to write all this down! She liked to talk about all this stuff (usually)!

How stupid.

Well {sigh}. It’s never too late. I am going to make it a goal to write down all the stories that I can remember.

In fact, I think I will start right now…

About Our Lineage

I invite you to join me as I share my journey of successes, surprises, and of course, disappointments. All belong to my passion called Genealogy.
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6 Responses to Confessions of a Genealogist

  1. Oh, I’m so sorry! Yes, I understand all those missed opportunities.

  2. chmjr2 says:

    My wife is a nurse in a nursing home. Many times the people have no family left or no family comes to visit. She has heard many a story from these people who are anxious to tell their stories. You were very lucky you had your grandmother and really more importantly she had you. I am sure you will recall these stories and pass them down to future generations of your family. I am sure your grandmother would be pleased with your efforts.

    • Our Lineage says:

      Thank you so much! I hope that those folks one day have someone help them tell their stories, too. It has certainly made my life richer by knowing them.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and a very nice one at that!

  3. Su Leslie says:

    Oh, I know how you feel. I spent time with my grandmother when she was in her 80s and not only didn’t write the stories down, but didn’t ask enough questions. I was in my 20’s and 30’s, and not that interested in family history. Now there are so many gaps in my knowledge and no-one left to plug them.

  4. What a lesson to learn. All you can do at this point is have paper and pen at the ready for “brain dumps” as you remember those stories. They may not all comeback at once, but you’ll get them down eventually!

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