I love the words to a song from the musical, “Paint Your Wagon.” It goes, “I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me. I talk to the stars, but they never hear me. The breeze hasn’t time to stop and hear what I say. I talk to them all in vain.” (“I Talk to the Trees.”)
It’s true. They don’t hear me. However, it doesn’t stop me from talking to my ancestors. I’m not talking about a séance or occult kind of chat. I just want to find my ancestors, and I’m having trouble finding them, so I have these little chats with them, be it at their gravesite, or hometown, or even over the kitchen table where I’ve spread all the family papers out to try to piece together their puzzle.
When I’m frustrated and have these chats, some of them respond!
Sometimes I catch them looking at me. I’ve placed photos of my deceased ancestors in my picture file on my computer and set my screensaver to scroll through my picture files.
Once in a while, while I’m stuck sitting at my computer long enough that the screensaver clicks on, the photos scroll through and I find my ancestors staring back at me. Thomas Francis Farrell has big brown eyes that look right through me. It’s like he’s saying, “You haven’t found my family yet.”
And I say, “Yes I have! I found twin babies in England that no one knew about, and I found a baby girl in Boston that died at eight months. Thomas, I’ve got 13 kids for you and I can’t see where another one would even fit in! There’s not a single record about you in Massachusetts that I haven’t found. And I’m still stuck before we can cross the pond. I’m going to need some help here.”
There’s some ancestors that won’t leave me alone. They know I’m busy, so they really don’t bother me until I come up for air. Then, they’re right on my shoulder reminding me they still want to be found, but they aren’t any help in finding the records.
I clearly remember more than ten years ago working on my Master’s Degree in History. Each term I had 45 books to read and 16 papers to write. It was insane. (I was insane for doing it but I’d paid my tuition and wasn’t about to let the money go to waste.) So, there I was with NO time for anything except homework, BUT when Sunday came along or a school holiday, Gideon Chaplin would tap me on the shoulder and remind me he was still waiting!
How did I know it was Gideon. Could I see him? No. Could I hear him with my ears? No. I just knew it was him.
Sometimes my research just disappears. It’s probably just because I’m not totally organized and I can’t remember where I put that file, but it’s not where I thought I put it, so I blame my ancestors for taking the file to check out my work. I tell them to finish checking it and bring it back because I need it. Then, when I organize things, or they’re done checking me, the file ends up being right where I put it before.
Sometimes they help me figure it out. Or, maybe it’s because I’ve verbalized my problem that I am able to solve it on my own. I like to think they helped me.
So, call me crazy, or, maybe you’re just like me! We can’t both be crazy!
What about you? Do you talk to your ancestors, too?