You, me and the family tree

It’s Sunday afternoon and in a fit of some kind, I’ve eaten way too many jelly beans.
Awaiting the sore tummy, I shrug off the fact that my teeth are now impacted with gobs of sugar. I shrug because despite the challenge for my toothpick, eating jelly beans always makes me feel good.
And when I feel good, then anything is possible.
I sit staring into my laptop screen—ears on the voice of Enya and the violins of Itzhak Perlman. I toggle between my OneNote chicken-scratch column and e-mail messages from my husband.
He’s lost his eyeglasses again and his spelling is atrocious. But blind as a bat, he can type “I love you” and that’s really all I need to see in my inbox.
The dogs are snoring on the floor on Pete’s side of the bed, where they will continue to make themselves comfortable every chance they get until the man of the house comes home.
I’m not keen on the windy, fall day. It’s Day 1 of the many to come that spell shorter daylight hours.
Ho hum.
The dark tan lines are fast fading from the tops of my feet and it’s not fair. It’s cold in here and it’s like summer never happened. All that hard work outside on those hot summer days. . . . I’d better eat more jelly beans.
Alas, my mind is not on my work. Instead, I’m dreaming about jolly old England, the moors of Scotland, Pinchard’s Island in Newfoundland, and a visit I had recently with a woman I’d never met before.
She is 75 years old, her name is Dorothy, and I could hardly wait to lay eyes on her and hear what she had to say. She is a piece of the puzzle and a part of the story of where I’ve come from.
My opportunity to meet her could have happened a long time ago but, as they say, “how quickly not now becomes forever”—a common by-product of the life that happens when you’re busy making other plans.
But not that day. That day, the plan was to connect.
Expectations soared and my intuition told me Dorothy was going to play a key role in my discovery of what was behind Door #1 and the story of a woman named Pearl.
I did not go unrewarded.
I came home one step closer to filling in the blanks about the history behind a beautiful woman who passed away 74 years ago. She is captured in photographs taken in the early 1900s and into the 1930s; youthful and demure in sepia, serene and blissfully happy.
A young spinster in 1917 whose soulmate would be John in 1923. Then on to become a mother gentle and caring of five little peppers.
Yet, as the universe would have it, other plans than those who adored Pearl would have hoped for unfolded in 1934 when, at the age of 35, she died. Her husband and five children would move forward without her.
I grew up knowing it was a love story to dream upon; captured in letters, stories, memories, and photographs. For as long as I can remember, and because she was loved, the woman who was Pearl has been inked in the books of my mind.
How could she not be? Her brief life created one who gave me my existence.
Yet, I miss that I never really knew her.
I always have looked for a resemblance in her photograph and always have believed she believed, as I believe, that anything is possible.
Today I am the caregiver of so many chicken-scratch notes stuffed in file folders by another late great woman named Barbara, who was driven to complete the family tree of her ancestors. An auntie of grandeur and big heart often touted an odd sock among us and chided for her eccentric ways.
Yet she, too, is missed.
Truth be told, and though I didn’t know it at the time, I think my auntie and I were joined at the hip as genealogy sleuths.
Me and you, Auntie. You and me and the family tree.
You also confirmed my suspicions that it was you from whom I inherited the first-born trait of the note-maker.
Today, you walk in greener pastures with a young mother who waits for her children in fields of daisies. Yet how I wish you were still here to see what leaps I have made in the story of Pearl.
Thanks to Dorothy, who nudged the seed to grow, and to all those little notes you left me, Pearl’s light is shining back some 360 years to a little seaport village in England, where who we used to be lived in an old house with warm light and a little picket fence, and where children played and Thomas dreamed that anything was possible.

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