Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When inspiration is gone

On this blog in times past I have written about my dad inspiring me to begin in earnest my family history research.  In this post written in April, I talk about the push toward research that I felt after two conversations with my father. After Dad passed away in 2000, for a while it seemed as though my drive to do more research came from my desire to keep a promise made, to find out as much about my father's family as I possibly could.

With my dad gone, along the way with my research, my mother was the one who became more and more excited with each discovery I made. Oddly enough it is my mom's line which I have so far been able to trace the furthest, with evidence which takes me back into the early 1740s. Sharing these family finds with my mom led to conversations we would never have had otherwise, little talks about the small moments of life, and the significant ones too. Mom's interest in my finds, stories that she shared, and conversations with her, all served as inspiration to push me further in my research.

Now Mom is gone too; my inspiration is gone. At times I am so caught by grief, it is as though I am drowning in it. It comes over me in huge crashing grey waves. Some days it will not let me be. The wisdom of a grief counsellor tells me to let the memories be the buoy that saves me, but in truth that suggestion only caroms off my mind. I find myself irrationally longing for more of those conversations, more of something I cannot possibly have. I miss the sound of my mother's voice. Daily I struggle to remember each intonation, the sounds of happiness playing on her words, and the sounds of sadness too.

On my desk there is a pile of documents all related to family history. I have not touched them in weeks, and feel little compunction to go through them.

When memories are not enough, where do I find inspiration now?

This afternoon, something changed in me. Alone in my home I began to look through my parents' wedding album. I found myself learning things I do not remember having known before.

One of my favourite photographs in the album is one in which my parents are cutting their wedding cake at their reception. I knew they had a reception, but I do not recall learning that it took place in the Cumberland Hotel on Westland Row in Dublin, a hotel which stood at Number 17 Westland Row from 1941 until 1967. I knew my parents married on 2 August 1954, but did not know they married on a Monday. Like many people, Monday is not my favourite day of the week, but now I have a reason to view it differently.

Outside St. Patrick's Church, Ringsend, Dublin, Ireland
Also, there is one photograph in the album that I do not recall seeing before. It is the one pictured above. Some of the faces in the photograph are familiar and others are not. For me what is most remarkable about the picture is the joy on almost every one of the faces of the people surrounding my mom and dad at the very beginning of their married life. No one knew what challenges they might face, or what sorrows might befall them, but there it is, Joy.

There is no denying it will be difficult, but when my memories are not enough, I will 'climb' inside that photograph album and try to feel the joy they felt on that day. When the time is right I will continue to seek and to build our family history, knowing the joy it brought to my mom and my dad.


Click on photograph to view larger version.
Copyright©irisheyesjg2012.

16 comments:

  1. Jennifer,
    Oh, how I can read this piece and capture your sorrow and pain of missing you Mom (and Dad). But, it also rings true, that this photo album is your friend along with other tidbits, histories and stories you will find in your parent's belongings. For now, the historical genealogy point of view may not be healing, but telling their most recent stories may be just what the Doctor of a Pained Heart prescribes. May you take time daily, or as you need, to write small pieces such as this one to capture your feelings and their past; preserving and embracing your memories. And on those days when it's really hard, just read your own words. They are beautiful!

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    1. Hello Kathleen,

      Thank you for your comments; they are much appreciated.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. Jennifer,

    Kathleen said it brilliantly! Read her words again, slowly. I read this early this AM and was deeply touched, but, the verbose one is having trouble coming up with any words of solace. I am a firm believer in acknowledging the pain, feeling it, living it. Ignoring or denying it just do not work. Writing is one of THE best therapies, you do it well, write, share, and we will do our best to send virtual hugs and love back to you.

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    1. Hi Carol,

      Thank you for your comments; they are always much appreciated. I will take Kathleen's words to heart, and I am always very grateful for your support and the support of our little community.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. Tomorrow marks the 19th anniversary of my mother's death. We, too, were very close, so I can identify with your post. Recently, our Vice-President Joe Biden was addressing a group of families who had lost a family member in one of our wars. He lost his young wife and two children right before Christmas many years ago when their car was T-boned. I'll never get his words right, but he told the families that one day the thought of their loved one would bring a smile to their lips before it brought a tear to their eye. I wish that for you.

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    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for your comments. As always, they are much appreciated. I am sorry for the loss of your mom too, and send you blessings on this day of the anniversary of her death. I really like the idea which Joe Biden shared, of smiles before tears when we think about loved ones. Thank you for sharing these words with me.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Oh, Jennifer, I feel so much for you in this situation! I am so relieved to see you have reached that small shift in your perception--a turning point for you.

    When I started researching my husband's Irish-American roots, his uncle became my resource and family connection in a way similar to your experience. As a newlywed, I grew to love and appreciate this uncle as he unfolded as a person through the family stories he shared. I so wanted to be able to share with him his family's precise origin in Ireland...but we suddenly lost him. By Grace and the healing of time, I, too, was able to ease back into research. Though this uncle is no longer here to guide me with his family remembrances, I pursue the research chase in his memory, and hope I'll catch up with those elusive facts on his behalf. Just holding such thoughts brings him back to mind--all the ways to appreciate him, who he was and what he stood for.

    For you, I wish these same blessings.

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    1. Hi Jacqi,

      Thank you for your comments. As always, they are much appreciated. I am sorry for the loss of your husband's uncle. How wonderful that you were able to get to know him and be inspired by him. Thank you for the sharing your experience with me.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. Sending a hug across the miles to you, Jennifer. I hope the joy from the photo creates a joyous spot inside you to light the way when things seem dark. Keep blogging because as you can see, we are here for you.

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    1. Hi Shelley,

      Thank you for your comments and for the hug. I really appreciate both. Blogging and reading blogs is one of the only bright spots in my day now, so I am going to try to keep up with it. Thank you Shelley.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. Oh Jennifer, like everyone else my thoughts are with you as you struggle through this terribly sad time. I too am a great believer in feeling and acknowledging the pain, the great loss and heart wrenching sadness. So, keep on doing exactly what you're doing. We all grieve in similar, yet different, ways and that's as it should be. I still miss my beloved mum every minute of every day but finally that acute pain has eased.

    It's wonderful to hear that you're now looking at many of the "same things" but with different eyes. Yes, a huge seismic shift happens to us at times like this. Sending much love and postitive energy, across the seas,to help you a little with the healing. Catherine.

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    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for your comments, and for the positive energy you are sending my way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  7. There are those who will tell you 'don't cry'. They want you to push away the sadness. But my Nana always told us to go ahead & cry. It is good for you & will help you to feel better, even on days when you are afraid the crying will never end. My Nana & mother have been gone a long time. I don't like to count the years. Working on my genealogy is for them. I want to write the book on my maternal line so people will know them & love them as I did. It will keep them alive forever.

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    1. Thank you Colleen. I appreciate your comments, as always. I have had a few people ask me if I'm 'over it' yet, and I find it surprising. Your Nana sounds like she was a wise woman. I will always mourn the loss of my parents, but hope that over time each day might get a little brighter.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  8. I feel so sad for you Jennifer and know that it will continue to be difficult for some time to come: being "over it" works to it's own timeframe for each loss and each person. Through this sad time I hope you find solace in the photo albums, the joy that surrounded your parents (you've shared lovely moments about them), and the urge to share your feelings and discoveries. You are one of the best writers I follow and I always enjoy your words -you have a real gift.

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    1. Thank you so very much Pauleen for your lovely comments. I really appreciate all of them. You have lifted me up today. The photographs have been such a blessing to me, although some days I do nothing but cry over them when the memories come rushing back, but I feel very blessed to have them.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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Cheers, Jennifer

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