On my mother’s side, I have a very dedicated grandmother and first cousin once removed (a.k.a. cousin of my mother) who have traced our family lineage back to Lucy. Essentially, we’re Irish, Irish, Irish and some of us ate enough potatoes to get through the famines, find a mate, and pass on the genes. There are even some photos that have survived all this time. One in particular features my great-grandfather and great-great-uncle flanking a very large and – let’s just be frank here – rather unattractive woman. As it so happens, she is my great-great grandmother, and I’m relieved to report that I don’t really see the family resemblance. Nonetheless, it’s kind of cool to have a piece of the past – to know where you come from and who came before you.
I see a hypnotherapist, and she’s told me she’s encountered “memories” with some of her clients that indicate we have past lives. Now I’m not about to assert any factual knowledge about that, all I can say is that I, personally, have no memory of a life prior to this one. At any rate, I’ve heard it theorized that there is no reincarnation, but that we possess the memories of those that came before us in our DNA. In that sense, perhaps there’s small comfort in knowing your ancestors were farmers and millers and fishermen and not Jack the Ripper, Hitler, or the Marquis de Sade (and my apologies – and no harm intended – to anyone who may have descended from that lineage!)?
However, when it comes to my father’s side, for all I know, we may descend from Attila the Hun. My father remembers his grandparents (and their names, of course)…but the buck stops there. I recently began an effort to trace our genealogy, and it seems I come from a people that knew how to fly under the radar. I found only one Ellis Island record – that of my father’s paternal grandfather – but he lists himself as coming from a place I can’t find on any map: “Panowir”. When I do Google searches on it, only one otherEllis Island record lists someone coming from “Panowir”…EVER. Needless to say, this creates something of a roadblock.
This reminds me, during the romantic teenage years, I always held a small hope that maybe we were somehow heirs to the Austro-Hungarian fortunes of the Romanovs. Remember the story of Anastasia and her family (who could forget Rasputin – again, for all I know, he’s a great-great grandfather?) and how they never found the missing relatives? Unless I missed the update, to this date, the fortune sits in wait. If the true heirs are part of my family tree, it’s probably safe to assume we’ll never dig deep enough to figure it out!
Despite the odds, I have a couple plans up my sleeve, to dig up the bones. I would truly like to visit our “motherland” on my trip (Lithuania? This is what I’ve believed all my life, so I kind of hope it’s accurate. It’s burned on the brain, at any rate). Both in the hopes that it would touch him, and to drum up a comrade in arms, I sent everything I’ve found thus far to my dad with his father’s day gifts. I asked that he review all the Ellis Island imports with our family name (a dozen or less – yet considering if anyone in this country has our name, I know them personally…it makes one wonder where all the others went???) to see if anyone rings a bell. If so, I’ll research their place of origin looking for my great-grandfather.
If not, long live the Romanav fantasy!!! As I mentioned, we descend from a crafty and apparently undocumented people. Jerks! Regardless, for better or worse, I must cut this off as my Malamute is gorging upon a colander of steamed cabbage I absentmindedly left on the counter. I can only imagine the bazaar or bad smells he’ll put me through later tonight….