For the Love of What I’ll Never Have

The most beautiful face in the world is the one I can only recognize across time
The most beautiful face in the world is the one I can only recognize across time

Today’s work is about what we have lost.  It’s a wish list of sorts, or maybe put another way, its a love letter to the ones we probably can’t have.  I don’t use real names in my posts to protect family privacy etc.  This photo is of my Grandmother a few generations back who immigrated from a small country in the Balkans. I refer to her in my blog posts as Grandma Urbanski.  I gave her this name because she lived and worked in the city (thus the Urban part of the name) and the” ski “just makes sense with the other surnames in the area.

I count her as one of my Lost because unfortunately, there is almost nothing of her left behind. Oh, I will never give up searching for more scraps of Grandma U, but the chances of finding anything more than her grave marker or this photo from her Naturalization Papers are pretty dim.

I am not ungrateful, having this photo alone is so very meaningful to me.  But, I wish that I could also see the face of her husband, of their 8 kids when they were young, or even another one of her.  The saddest part of this is that the artifacts of her life were not blown away in a storm or great calamity.

Her own children destroyed the entire contents of the house after Grandma and Grandpa Urbanski died.  Not out of dislike for them, but even worse it seems, out of the shame of them.

I know that they came here on a steamer ship, likely in the underbelly as 2nd or 3rd class passengers. They were young and newly married. How brave, adventurous and hopeful they must have been! They spoke no English and upon arrival and through the ends of their days they persisted in their “Old Country” ways.

What I would have found marvelous and fascinating about them, their own “first generation born here” children found insufferably humiliating.

These foreign born, huddled-masses parents who worked ceaselessly until the day they dropped were a complete embarrassment to their own children~the very ones they were working so hard for. I guess I would be angry at that generation of ungrateful offspring if it weren’t such a commonality across the board with all the “new Americans” and their children around that time.

Take some time today and write about who and what you feel is lost to your family.  Maybe it’s a story like mine. Maybe it is about the native tongue that you regret never learning. Perhaps you miss a certain food and don’t have any trace of the recipe. Or maybe you just miss your own Grandparents. Mine were all incredible and simply larger than life to me when I was a child. I was fortunate enough to know one of my Grandmothers, Gramcracker, well into my adulthood.  What an experience! To know her as a Grandma, and then, as an adult to know her heart as a woman.

I wish to know my lost Grandma “Urbanski” as well. I think she’s the one I’ll never give up on ❤

 

 

 

Author: Mom

I am a writer who just happens to love family trees. As the self proclaimed Family Historian and Writer in Residence at my house, I blog to others about family history writing. When I first began this journey, everyone was bored silly with my "family tree stuff." Once I started writing the stories down, everyone willingly joined in. Now the whole family pretty much participates! Imagine that ! Follow along, and you can gain a little family appreciation for all your hard nosed genealogical research while learning a little something about the craft of writing too.

25 thoughts on “For the Love of What I’ll Never Have”

  1. Well done! This is the compelling pull of genealogy research. We start with the names and dates and then start asking the questions that there is no one around anymore to answer. Beautifully written!

    And congratulations on your blogiversary!

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  2. Yes, I would give anything too to have back my two sets of grandparents to interview, chat with and ask questions so thoroughly I would put Barbara Walters to shame. 🙂

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  3. I enjoyed reading this beautifully written, thought-provoking, and powerful post. It’s sad that her children didn’t think that she had memorabilia worth saving–but it makes me think about the importance of sometimes saving artifacts that I don’t personally find interesting for future generations.

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    1. Sheryl~
      It really does make you think about such things doesn’t it? I have some old dishes from the other side of my family that are not very pretty and not usuable, but I can’t part with them because I know who used them. I hope my kids will at least keep my writing 🙂

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  4. Yes, it’s a tricky line – where to use information living relatives might not appreciate.
    But you do such a wonderful job – and the job you do is so important. Because every scrap that’s written down is forever, you know?
    I love the picture. I’m glad you have it. I’m sure you count it among your more cherished possessions. No irony there, right?
    My best to you-
    Sue

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    1. Oh I know, I know. This sounds really morbid, but out of respect for feelings of a few “technology terrified” relatives, I’ll have to outlive them before I can put real names on a public blog. It’s a little frustrating, but it is what it is. And believe me, this name is pretty one-of-a-kind. There’s another “pod” of them in a nearby city and we are in contact…so at least we can share that way 🙂

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  5. Such a sad story; however it’s hauntingly beautiful at the same time! I’ve found families who have died in workhouses; making me question where their family were at the time! Did they die alone in such a sad desperate place? I love you blog and look forward to reading more!

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    1. Oh heavens, I haven’t found anyone in a workhouse (yet!) but I really can’t imagine!
      Sometimes I stand back and look at all of this and just marvel at how any of us are here. Our ancestors endured so many sadnesses, hardships, miseries, and unspeakable tragedies. It makes me want to be a little tougher and less whiney!

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  6. I have found others who contact me about those I’ve written about, I have also helped other people because I had a source they may not have known about or not tried. I am as careful as I can be and stop at the grandparents, but I use their real names. I value the privacy of my family as well, however I can’t give them the information they have asked for if I hide the names of those who went before us.
    I hope you find more about your grandmother, I too have a couple people who are “lost” and about whom I can find no information.

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  7. I’m sure you have bery good reasons but I was surprised to find that you are not using the real name for your ancestor, many generations back, particularly as you know so little about her. My experience from posting on a blog has meant that the name is available to the Search Engines and slowly other descendants contact me, we switch over to e-mails, and we are able to swap letters and photos and other references we have found. Sometimes it is sensitive information and won;t see the light of day on the internet but it all adds to the understanding of the person and the effect they had on other people. But to find those contacts people have to see the name. Good luck with your lovely lady.

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    1. Good point Oz-lander~ But~ and there is always a “But.”
      I have some relatives who are already pretty upset that this much is on the inter-webby-net place. They are sure that they will cyber-nabbed by people from the Old Country, Identity Thefted, Swindled, Conned…something. So, until they can make their peace with the whole technology thing…I have to keep the public blog a bit anonymous. But, really (another “but”) the point of mine is to teach others and give them examples of how to write this stuff so that the future generations of us will know these wonderful souls. I do have a private, by invite only, site where all the real names, accurate dates and identifying info is used for the family 🙂
      Paranoia, along with frugality and pointy noses all seem to be family traits for us.
      In most cases, I don’t even let the photos sync up, unless the story is about someone specific and isn’t “unflattering”

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  8. Somewhere outside our universe, Grandma Urbanski’s heart knows the love you feel for her. What a tragedy that all her things are lost to you; such treasure would be a scrap of a recipe, a shred of fabric, a wisp of hair. How fortunate that this photo is in your possession. What a marvelous gift.

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    1. That is a thought that really comforts me Laura. I just feel like she’s waiting to give me a wink and a pat on the head some day for finally “finding” her 🙂

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a penny for your thoughts dear~

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