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|
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.