"Man has his will - but woman has her way."

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adventures through my family....AGAIN

  Well, here I am once more and I am once more on the search for my family.  I started a long time ago trying to create my family tree and I was so excited and I just knew that it wouldn't be that difficult, especially since my great-grandmother, Ora Corrine Smith, was still living and would be a wealth of information for me.

  I was right in one aspect and woefully wrong in every other one!  Mom Smith, as we called her, was able to give me a lot of information.  Of course, her parents but also their parents and a lot of stories and histories to chase down.  Some of it was painful for her to tell, a lot of deaths and financial losses along with episodes dealing with racism.  As a white woman in the deep south (Alabama, Georgia and finally Florida), she saw her share of hatefulness and injustice and relaying it to me was difficult for her. 

  This brings me to the reason I stopped my research that time, put all of names and dates in a drawer and walked away after wiping away some tears.  I am biracial, which I have already stated here.  My maternal side is Caucasian and my paternal side is African American.  There were other reasons why my mother's father disowned her and her siblings, but I was either one of them or just an easy excuse.  I got caught in the crossfire either way.

  I knew this already and was not surprised to hear that I was a mistake in his opinion and not a cherished grandchild of his heart.  I never met the man.  I was raised in Mom Smith's house for the majority of my childhood and on one occasion before he passed away he came by the house to pick up some papers that he needed apparently.  I was asleep on the couch and he saw me.  He asked my great-grandmother, "Is that my granddaughter?", to which she answered, "Yes, do you want me to wake her?" and of course he said no. 

  I was very angry at Mom Smith about that for years.  Why did HE get to make the decision?  Didn't he forfeit that right?  Shouldn't he be forced to face me?  I can say truly that was the only thing that I really ever got angry at Mom for.  My mother said to me when I was venting about this one day that didn't I see that Mom was trying to protect me from any ugliness that might come from him?  I stopped being angry that day.  I grew up then and understood.

  So, it came time to research him and his side of the family and you know what I found?  I found that I felt like an intruder.  If he didn't care to know me in life, to look me in my face or even to say hello and pretend he was a stranger, he must be spinning in his grave to know how I was trying to investigate him and learn about him!  More importantly, I also was amazed to find that I cared what he would think of me.  Would he be proud of me?  I mean, I ran through the list of things that were good about me.  A single mom of a high school student at that time (now a college student), working full time, a homeowner, never been arrested, etc., but would the only thing that mattered be that I was black and I was tip-toeing through his past, cutting the space between us that he had built up? 

  I sat there and cried, and was mad, and felt rejected all over again. 

  Am I ready now to open that drawer and start again?  I think so.  I have tried to start on my father's side of the family and that is a whole other story for another post.  All I can say is I am back, I am researching and I am going to face this man, this ghost, and I am going to face myself.