Friday, October 18, 2013

In Search of our Ancestors - Megan Smolenyak

Subtitle: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History

I am passionate about genealogy.  I enjoy uncovering the mysteries of my family; who they were, where they lived, what they worked at.  Along the way I learn the geography of where they were from and the history they lived through.  I took this along on a recent vacation to re-read before donating to a genealogical society.

The book presents stories gathered for the PBS series but not covered necessarily during the show.  These are inspiring and encouraging tales of family researchers experiencing serendipity when seeking their history.

In re-reading the book (it was a gift from my sister in 2000) I got tips on researching that I'd not noticed in my first read.  I was reminded of "genealogical karma" where when you share a photo or story of someone else, its possible that someone will send something about your family to you.  Such people think of themselves as "memory brokers", getting photos, documents and other memorabilia back to family members. I think I'll have to see if I can find the old PBS series on DVD.

Published:  2000  Read: 2013 (third time, 2000 and 2002 before)  Genre: Short story, non-fiction

Rhapsody Home - John Gould

Subtitle: Or, Reporting Live from Our Last Resort

This is the last memoir of John Gould, a long time columnist for the Christian Science Monitor and an author of over 50 books.  He and his wife moved from their family farm in Maine to an assisted living facility the last years of their lives.  He tells of their experiences with his typical humor and dry wit.  He's funny sharing his struggles with the administration to fix simple things, like getting his window open or getting the soup served hot.  It's a poignant revelation on how we give up more as we age and are in the care of others.

Some passages I enjoyed:

[When telling about being a boy on his Grandpa's farm] At that time I didn't realize that I was learning about getting to be old.  Grampie was old.  And I was new.

What nurses do, and the care and the attention they provide, are might important.  For in the short run, which is the run we have, kindess and peace of mind will prove to be the one comfort that counts.

     As seems to be the pattern lately, I found I'd read this book back in 2005, although in my defense it was before I had brain surgery so maybe it was wiped from my memory!  John Gould passed away in 2003 at the age of 94.

Published: 2000  Read: October 2013  Genre: Memoir