Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ancestry - not .com - Being 60 (week 5 - by Margaret Ullrich)

A little while ago was running a mini-series about celebrities researching their family trees.  Okay, to be honest, it was a commercial.  They were really hoping everybody would want to climb their family trees with's help.  
For a fee.

It really was heartwarming.  Big celebrities tracking down their family's history, then traveling halfway across the world and weeping as they trod on their ancestral stomping grounds.  All the while the cameras were rolling.  Everything - library research, traveling and hugging - done within an hour, including commercials.

American movies and television shows are seen all around the world.  The relatives in the ancestral towns hadn't just fallen off a truck.  They grabbed at their long lost fifth cousins and their 15 minutes of fame. 

Without that incentive, long-lost relatives aren't always that hot to hug.

Paul and I had left New York in 1972.  My parents had come for a few visits while we lived in British Columbia.  That was easy.  British Columbia is Canada's tourist trap.  Then we moved to Winnipeg.  To be honest, there are times - like when it's -40º - when even the local citizens don't want to be in Winnipeg.  But my parents wanted to see where we were living.  Pop said Tyndall Park was like College Point.  

We went down to New York a few times, too.  As the years went by, it got more awkward.  Our last visit was the most memorable, reunion-wise.  

The day before we were due to return home, Paul and I were going to take a small walk with Ma.  Then we got a phone call from Pop's sister and her husband.  They wanted to see us.  It was a last minute surprise.  No one had mentioned wanting to see us.  We had been away for 28 years and life had gone on.  No hard feelings.  Just the way things were.

Okay.  We said it would be nice to see them.  We sat down for a cup of coffee and to catch up... or so we thought.  My Aunt turned to me and asked, "So, when are you moving back to New York?"

I said we weren't.  My Aunt seemed annoyed.  Paul and I sat while they chatted about people and events in their lives.  Basically we had nothing to add to the conversation.  We couldn't leave for a walk.  That would've been rude.  So, we sat and listened. 

Maybe, if there had been a camera rolling, it would've been more pleasant. 

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