In the course of the following months I learned a few more details about them. My great-grandmother Rozalia Bryjak was from Dlugopole, my great-grandfather Jacob Rol from the nearby village of Banska. He died in August 1894 at age 35 years in Dlugopole. Some years later my great-grandmother remarried, had two more children, and died in January 1954 at age 89 years in Dlugopole. They are both buried in the nearby Ludzmierz cemetery. Their three children, Jozef, Franciszek, and Karolina emigrated to the United States.
Archive for the ‘Two questions and no answers’ Category
I started with family research in 1999, after my uncle’s passing, using the information he had collected on the maternal side of my family, the names and dates I had taken from my paternal grandparents’ headstones, and the information my father had given me about his parents. Within the last three years I had lost two people I dearly loved, my father and my uncle who was my mother’s only sibling. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and a relapse after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation had destroyed our hopes that she could win the battle against cancer. Today, when I’m reflecting upon the reasons why I suddenly developed such a strong interest in family research that at times almost became an obsession, I believe it was the shock of losing one whole generation of my family within a short period of time and the painful realization that we hadn’t talked enough, that there were many open questions, and that I hardly knew anything about my ancestors on both sides of my family.
People are sometimes surprised to hear that I love spending time on family research. Some of them are showing interest in what I’m doing and are asking questions, some smile incredulously and frankly say that they don’t understand why I’m spending so much time with this, that the past is over and done with and that it is more important to live in the present and to look at the future rather than wasting time dwelling on the past. I don’t discuss this subject any more. There’s no doubt that we should live in the present and enjoy what we have now, but we must not forget that the good life most of us have today is the result of our parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ hard work and struggles. That’s what our ancestors wanted for us, that’s what they struggled for, to get ahead and create a better life for us, and for that we owe them respect, gratitude, and remembrance. Like a tree that is blossoming and producing fruit because it is well connected to its roots, most of us have a good life and are doing fine, not because we are separated from the past, but because we are connected to our roots and to the roots of past generations.
>It was in fall of 1989 when I asked my father where his father came from originally. Being as na’ve as I was back then, I thought it was an easy to answer question. Sometimes I wonder how things would have developed if he had he given me some names, shown me some old family pictures, and told me a little bit about his father’s side of the family. Would I have been satisfied and stopped asking questions? Would I ever have researched the paternal side of my family as obsessionally as I did for many years, had his answer to my question not have been a plain and simple “I don’t know”?
It was in 1999, after my uncle’s death, when we cleared out his home and tried to organize the mass of materials he had left behind, that I came upon the folder filled with family research materials on the maternal side of our family that he had collected over the years. I wasn’t interested in family research at all at the time, but didn’t have the heart to throw the folder away, so I put it in one of the boxes I decided to keep. I don’t really remember how long I let the boxes sit in the attic before I took the time to go through them one more time to sort out what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. After taking a closer look at the folder that was filled with notes, old letters, family pictures, and lists of names most of which were unfamiliar to me, I decided to take the time to continue the simple family tree going back three or four generations that my uncle had put together, just out of curiosity to find out who all these people were and how they were related to me.