More of a WWYD...family related(6 Posts)
So, I'm an only child. My dad died 18 years ago (my mum died a few years before that).
Growing up, I knew my dad had a brother and (half)sister. I was told that his mother became mentally ill after his brother was born, and he and his brother were split up. My dad lived with maternal GPs, his brother with paternal aunt. Some years later, after his mum died and dad remarried, they both went back to live with him. However his father was not a nice man, hence my dad left home at 16 and lost contact with all of them.
After my dad died, I did some research. It started because I wanted to know my dad's real name (I knew he took my mum's surname but not what his actual name was). I found this, also that his mum died not when he was a child, but when he would have been in his 40s, and that his dad (who I'd assumed was long dead, as my dad was nearly 50 when I was born) died when I was 17.
I couldn't find anything about his sister. I found a marriage cert for his brother, and details of their child, but nothing further (I believe they may have emigrated).
There are so many unanswered questions - about what happened to my dad's mum, if he ever found out she didn't die when he was a child, whether I have any relatives left on this side of the family...the fantasist in me thinks maybe I'm heir to a fortune, but as my grandfather drove a bus it seems unlikely!
Then again I think, maybe it's best to be left. What's past is (long since) past, and maybe that's where it should stay?
WWYD if you were me?
I would try and find long lost family. My mum as a reunited with her half sister as an adult. It was lovely to meet her and we stay in touch. But just be prepared that some people might not want to stay in touch or build a relationship. I'd also be fascinated to know more about my family's past if I was in your position.
Just make sure you are prepared to find out negative things too. They weren't brought up by their mother, your father left home at 16 for bad reasons and went NC with his father and he even changed his name, which even now is quite unusual for a man to do. He obviously wanted to break the link with his family and people normally have reasons for that. For all you know your father may have known when his parents died and decided not to tell you for whatever reason. People don't often keep good things secrets.
I love doing my family tree and learning things, but there are some things that made me change my feelings about some people and that's not an easy thing. Especially when you can't ask them "Why did you say X when it was actually Y?"
The main thing that would worry me is finding out negative things about my dad. He was a really amazing man, and is my hero - I'm not sure I'd want to hear anything that would spoil my memories of him.
He spoke to me about his mum only a couple of times. I think she may have had puerperal psychosis. He said that he went to see her when he was 5 or 6, and she thought he was his father, and begged him to take her home. I can't imagine what that must have been like
I do think there are murky things about his family, there is a LOT of sad stuff in there, and I wonder how much I want to know.
Maybe I'll just try some more research for now.
The other issue is time. My dad's brother would be 90 now, even his children must be in their 60s. Any of my dad's cousins would have to be in their 80s at least. It's possible there might not even be anyone left who knows the full story anyway.
You probably find that none of the "children" know the actual story anyway. In my family the mystery was over my grandfather's mother. None of the people in my Grandad's generation knew the real story. Even when they were adults to their parents they were still "the kids" so didn't get told anything. That was also a generation that talked less about things, especially bad things anyway.
I think that is probably true. Also that the ones who did know a) are quite possibly dead by now and b) wouldn't have talked about it anyway.
I never met my grandmother, never even knew her name until a few years ago, yet I feel such sympathy and sorrow for her. I can't imagine how awful it must have been having a serious mental illness in the 1920s/1930s
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