I grew up in a home where my mother was an avid genealogist. That was in the old days, before computers, when one had to type or write letters of query, in our family's case, to Finland. When I saw how anxiously my mom would look for replies to her record queries, and how disappointed she would be when she had to send money to get very little or no information in return, I decided I would NEVER do that! So, throughout my life, every copy of a photo, or a document, or a family group sheet my mom sent to us, would promptly go into our 'genealogy box'.
When my husband left military service and we returned to the US, we returned with about ten boxes all labeled 'Genealogy'. Nothing was sorted or organized, for I had no interest in doing so. I only kept everything my mother sent, you know... in case she ever asked about any of it.
I was bitten by 'the bug' in 1990, while recovering from an illness. On a morning talk show I watched, a guest demonstrated ways to redecorate your home on a shoestring budget. One idea was to use what you had in your attic or basement, like framing old sheet music and hanging them on your walls. I had sheet music my mom had given me, so my dear husband found the box of music for me, and brought it to my sick-bed.
I made simple frames from inexpensive moulding to frame sheet music my mother had purchased when she was a teenager. Each included her signature (maiden name, of course), the date of purchase, and where she was living at the time. Once hung, I realized it needed more, so I found pictures of my mom at about the time she made those purchases, and displayed them amongst the framed sheet music.
Then I thought about other family keepsakes we were storing on closet shelves to protect from being destroyed by our six young children, and one by one, they each found their way to our family room, along with at least one photo of the family member who made, preserved, or otherwise had a connection to each item. By the time I had fully recovered from my illness, our family room had been transformed into a family history room.
Through that process, I discovered I could totally get lost looking into the eyes of the family members in the old photographs I found while rummaging through all those boxes, searching for pictures to hang. Surprisingly, I felt a deeply intense longing to know them. But still, I was NOT going to do genealogy! I wanted nothing to do with that! I just wanted to get to know my family, and that was all there was to it! End of story!
Long story, short.... within weeks, I became a 30-40 hours a week genealogist (thank goodness for computers), and have been researching ever since. Not only have I gotten to know my family members and ancestors, but I've gotten to know and understand myself, too, which, in my opinion, is the real miracle of my journey!
I am now at a stage in life where my joints don't bend like they used to, my eyesight is growing dim, and my ability to stroll through cemeteries is nearly impossible. For this reason, I am so grateful for all of you who selflessly visit cemeteries to take photos which you generously post to the many memorials you create on this site. For almost four years now, I have been gleaning the fruits of your labors, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know why it has taken me so long, but now I have finally discovered that I, too, can contribute to this site, as well.
Almost all the memorials I've created, as well as the memorials which have been entrusted into my care by other contributors, are of the direct-line ancestors of my children (or siblings of those direct-line ancestors). So, if you find that I am listed as either a creator or a contributor on a memorial of one of your family members, I would love to hear from you! It's always nice to connect with family, no matter how distant we may be.
Surnames of my Grandparents:
Palkki & Niskanen (Finland to Michigan to Wisconsin to Minnesota)
Hietala & Kangas (Minnesota - both children of Finnish immigrant parents)
Surnames of my husband's Grandparents (birth & adopted):
Skoog & Oswald (Sweden to Arizona to Oregon & Kansas to Oregon)
Howell & Williams (Kentucky & Idaho to Washington)
Zook & Yoder (Pennsylvania)
No Find A Grave members followed yet.