Monday, July 12, 2010

Stirring up the Ghosts

The last time I saw my father, I was 16. I'm pretty sure that is the last time I spoke to him. There was a brief correspondence around age 23 that didn't end well.

There are probably plenty of reasons on both sides for this, but 50 has a different way of seeing the world than 16 or even 20, so I'm more likely to forgive myself and him for whatever mistakes we may have committed.

As many of you know, I am working on a huge genealogy project. It's been an odd voyage of discovery. The Nye side has been very well documented by others over the years, so all I really had to do was copy down names and dates, all the way back to Denmark in the 1200's.

The Nimitz side was a bit more of a mystery. I've been spending most of my research time chasing down Nimitz's, Godfrey's, Sanders', and spelling gods help me, the Eikerenkoetter's. This has led to a wealth of old photographs and stories. With even more to come.

But as I watched the dry, dusty born, married, died names and dates come to life with the addition of young, vibrant faces and stories, I realized that I had nothing personal (except for my and my brother's recollections) of the Nye family. The family history went cold and boring with my grandparents.

So I turned to a researcher's best friend: Google.

And found a six year old address for my father and step-mother.

I wrote a letter, explaining what I was doing with the genealogy and what I was looking for. I sent it off into the vast blue of the US Postal Service expecting one of two things: nothing or a returned envelope.

I was so unprepared that when the out of state number popped up on my caller ID with the name "W. Nye", I spent at least three rings trying to figure out why my nephew Douglas' phone would have a "W" in the name.

But it was my father. It was a pleasant conversation. At 80, I suppose his perspective is different also. I won't say it was a great reunion or that any personal issue was solved. He was very happy with the genealogy project (I didn't remember until days later that his mother was very big into the Nye family genealogy and had, I think, helped with the printing of the second volume of the Nye Family). He has photographs he will scan and send to me. He has stories that he will write up and send to me.

It's good. If we start a correspondence, fine. It this is all there will be, fine. At least my last contact with him will have been a pleasant one.

My father and grandmother, the only photograph I have of her. Hopefully, not for long.


Sharon said...

My goodness, Janet. Lots of emotional stuff to process, sounds like. Take extra care of yourself for a while--be kind to yourself, I mean.
(Totally unsolicited advice: no extra charge)

Anonymous said...

We are NOT responsible for someone else's action....
Thank goodness ....... and we can choose not to live all
Of our lives as victims......forgiving does NOT mean
The other person was not wrong for what they does mean that we choose not to take the poison of hate hoping the other person will die.....more unsolicited advice.......
I have a similar experience in my family.......selfishness
Is widespread........I wish you peace and contentment
As you move forward........God Bless, Pam, South Bend