Saturday, August 28, 2010

Things We Hold Onto

I never knew my paternal grandparents.

My grandmother died the month before I was born. She is my namesake - my middle name was hers first. When I was about thirteen or fourteen years old, I was doing a genealogy project for church. My dad found a picture of his mother about the same age. Modernize her hair style and we could be twins. No kidding. I never met her, but I feel this connection to her. I am convinced she went to heaven right before I was born to make sure I arrived safely.

My grandfather died two months after I was born. I have a few pictures of him holding me, but I do not remember him. My father looks a lot like him. I don't know a lot about him. He worked at Kennecott Copper. He met my grandmother while swimming in a lake and fell in love at first sight.

There is something about the unknown family that draws you in. The mystery of the unknown. I carry on the name of these ancestors, but I don't know who they are. I want to believe that they were really great people. I believe they are because my dad is a wonderful man and he came from them. He has told me stories, and through that, I know they are good people.

I love the history of my last name. The history of the Scottish Hay clan. Our family motto. I take it heart. I have fabulous history on my maternal side as well. Elinor of Aquitane. Constantine. I am proud of where I came from. There are more things I could say about my maternal side, but since I grew up with those grandparents around, there is less "mystery." And for this post, I want to focus on my relationship with the unknown family.

I was looking at a post on my friend Shellie's blog the other day that said that Kennecott mines provided the metal for the bronze, silver, and gold metals for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. I got so excited reading that on her blog. Kennecott mines is where my grandpa worked!

And it made me realize how much I treasure those little, tiny tidbits of knowledge.

I am not adopted. I will never know what it is like to be adopted. But I can only imagine that this is a small glimpse at what it may be like for my daughter. We'll provide any info we can about her birth family. She'll cling to the few photographs we have. The little bits of knowledge and tangible landmarks like where she was born the way I cling to the teenage portrait of my grandmother and my fascination with Kennecott mines.

There is an intrinsic desire to know where we come from. To find who our "tribe" is. To discover where we belong. Unravel the mysteries of the past and hope to find something to be proud of.

This whole Kennecott thing was just kind of an epiphany for me. Realizing the things we hold on to. The treasures of our history we search for. And hopefully, it will help me be more understanding and prepared for Joci's path.

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