I love meeting fellow genealogists. But when I meet fellow genealogists and they discover how young I am, something like “You are so lucky to have started genealogy so young while you have your grandparents and the older generation to ask questions”. I rarely tell respond by telling people that actually, my grandparents were for the most part unavailable to me. My maternal grandparents died before I was born or shortly afterwards, my paternal grandmother had dementia for as long as I can remember, and I only had a short few weeks to really get to know my paternal grandfather because he lived across the country. So in reality – I wasn’t able to ask many questions.
But I often wonder what would have been if my grandparents had survived (and had a sound mind) during my childhood. My childhood experiences would undoubtedly be different. But would I have asked all the questions that I have now? Even if my grandparents had decided to tell me stories of their lives, would I have paid attention? Would I remember the stories with accuracy? Would they even be willing to tell me anything?
I truly believe that I would still have most of the questions that I have today. Why? Because even at 13 when I gained interest in genealogy I was not thinking about asking such questions. I did ask the basics of the who, what, when, and where – but I didn’t get the details that give life to these basic facts. I did not gain any knowledge about who my ancestors were as people.
Maybe all genealogists are meant to share the common regret of “I should have asked more questions”. Perhaps genealogists are meant to always have more questions. The “chase” of hunting down the answers to questions is what makes genealogy so much fun. So maybe the absence of answers is a positive thing.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment to this post, comment on Facebook or Twitter, or in your own blog post (be sure to leave a link to the post in the comments section of this blog!)