Growing up I was surrounded by an extended family and I always loved attending family events. My parents taught me to call all of the older generations 'Aunt' and 'Uncle' as a sign of respect. Admittedly this kept things simple but it also kept my real relationship to each of them a mystery to me.
Learned Late in Life
I was in my forties when my mother revealed the family tree that she had been quietly working on and I was very excited to finally understand my true relationship with the people I had known my whole life. It awakened an interest in family history for me that had not previously existed.
Second Generation Takes Over
I promised to continue the work when she felt ready to hand it off. Shortly after, my mother handed the reins of the search to me and for a while we worked as a team. When she was no longer able to help I worked on alone and would periodically share my findings with her. Read a little more in Early Days of the Hunt. Now that she is gone I think that I have exceeded her own hopes for documenting the history of our family.
Enjoying the Chase
In my search I have met distant relations also pursuing this same research. I made contact with family unheard for a century on the other side of the world. I have learned my real relationship to 'Aunts' and 'Uncles' growing up. My sense of family has grown. Read more in Why.
One day I too will pass to become an unknown face in an old photograph or a mere collection of dates and places in the family history of someone else. I leave behind this body of work as proof that I valued family, kept a promise to my mother and briefly existed.