In a submission to my RootsTech 2015 contest, Julie Wood shared a poignant discovery that taught her an important lesson about family. Thanks, Julie.
---The Ancestry Insider
An Example I Intend to Follow
My name is Julie Wood. I’m a 43-year-old mother of 4 children. I became interested in genealogy a few years ago when my mother-in-law, who was an avid genealogist, became sick and wasn’t able to do the work she wanted to do. I wanted to help her, so I began to educate myself on FamilySearch.org.
I also signed up for Ancestry.com’s free trial and that was the sealing of the deal for me. I spent every waking minute I could on Ancestry building my family tree and my husband’s family tree. I went to work, came home, and got on Ancestry. I stayed up late; I got up early. I was obsessed and I wanted to use every minute of my free trial because I didn’t know if I’d be able to afford a paid membership. My free trial ended. I mourned. But the holiday season came around and all I wanted for Christmas was a membership to Ancestry.com. In the meantime, my mother-in-law passed away.
Now, armed with my very own Christmas-gift of a 6-month Ancestry membership and renewed motivation from the death, I researched my little heart out! I learned wonderful things about my blood family and the one I married into! My mother had told me that her mother’s family had immigrated to Russia from Germany at the invitation of Catherine the Great. I found immigration records and photos. I even purchased a book to read about my Volga German ancestors. I started keeping track of the Utah counties that I have ancestors buried in, and I’m up to 14 of 29 so far.
Then came a very interesting discovery one day while fleshing out the Ancestry pages of my maternal grandparents, both of whom are deceased. A divorce record. One of Ancestry.com’s hints was a record from the state of California that showed that my maternal grandma and grandpa were divorced the month after my parents were married: September 1969. They never told anyone. They continued to live in the same home. They never let on that a divorce had happened. I immediately called my mom and emailed her a copy of the record. She gasped and immediately called her sister. It was a startling find for all of us, my mom and aunt for obvious reasons.
But it was quite a revelation for me also. I grew up in the next town over from my grandparents in Northern California. I loved them both and have many happy memories of time spent at their house. Grandpa taught me that if I ate the holes in the Swiss cheese, it would take my breath away. Grandma taught me that ½ cup isn’t the same as 1 ½ cups, especially when it comes to making a cake. Grandpa taught me how much money two bits was and paid me that much to brush his hair or scratch his back. Grandma taught me how to be generous with food and that “you should never go to someone’s house hungry.” (This rule seems to apply even if you’re invited for dinner.)
I don’t know what I’d done if they’d actually split up! My life wouldn’t be the same. I don’t regret finding the divorce record; in fact I’m glad. It makes me realize how blessed I am. I’m eternally grateful that my grandparents were able to set aside their differences and be present for their family. It’s an example that I intend to follow.