Who was it that inspired YOU to really 'get into' genealogy and family history? Who was the person, or were the people, who were responsible for igniting your passion to delve into learning who you were, where your roots had been planted, and what that common word 'family' really means?
In large part for me it was my mother-in-law and my father-in-law, Dolores and Carl, God rest their souls. I have been thinking about them a lot today since today is their wedding anniversary and they would have been married 65 years today. While I had always had a strong love of family and thrived on my extended family as a youngster, when I got married I learned something very different about 'family' and my quest into genealogy really took hold of me.
It's a long story, but let me just say that my in-laws were 100% Italian on both sides. So it was no small factor that back in 1975 there was a Bohemian, non-Catholic kid standing in front of them asking for their daughter's hand in marriage. To this day, 39 years later, I can still recall my nervousness and feel the trickle of sweat that ran down the back of my neck even though it was November and we were in Northern Minnesota! Luckily for me, their answer was 'yes', our engagement was set, and the journey began.
As I said, growing up I always loved family, but being welcomed into a 100% Italian family was a whole new experience. The word 'family' became not only a noun, but an action verb as well! I was truly welcomed as a full family member, cannot recall ever calling my mother-in-law and father-in-law anything other than 'Mom and Dad', and being held to exactly the same high standards that they expected and demanded from their other children. I was also blessed in my genealogy to get to spend years with my new Italian grandparents as well! What a treat to get to hear them speak in Italian and hear their stories and learn about their lives.
Then there was the whole cultural acclimation and education! I frequently say the next to my wife, the best thing I got out of the marriage was being introduced to what being Italian is all about! The love of the home country, the love of the culture, the love of the people, the love of the food, wine, and music and most of all the place of honor that is reserved for family.
Something began to stir in me. The more I heard the Italian language, the more I saw the special twinkle in their eyes when they spoke of Costacciaro, Fossato di Vico, Vinchiaturo, I began to understand that our roots are far more than those few we may see standing right in front of us in our lives. They go far deeper into a well of experiences, ancestors, villages, and cultural richness that are an integral part of who each of us are today.
I guess you could say Dolores and Carl really rang the genealogy bell that was inside of me! They awakened a passion I did not know was there. They helped me to realize that thinking back and thanking our ancestors provided each of us with a strength and sense of love that is crucial to our well being.
The passionate fire of genealogy burns within me now with a higher intensity than ever before. I live it every day and I am lucky enough to also devote my work life to it.
And on this very special day I need to say a huge thank you to Dolores and Carl for showing me a very special kind of genealogy and family history spark! So here it is:
So add your comment here and let me know who inspired YOUR trip into genealogy?