Thursday, August 12, 2010

Those Crazy Family Mysteries -- Part I

As promised, here's a glance at all those family mysteries I'm working on.  But first, a little bit of history:  I'm my mom's only child.  My dad was much older (19 years or so) than my mom and had 3 mostly grown kids when they married.  He was sick pretty much my whole life and passed away when I was 7.  Mom remarried almost immediately.  Then (anyone else seeing a pattern here?) remarried again about 2 years later.  She was married to this one -- my step dad -- until they died a few years ago about 4 months apart.  That's when the real fun started, with the cleaning out of the house.  Here's what we found:

Mystery #1
My mom was married how many times??  Look at that sweet little face!  Who'd have guessed she'd be married 5 (!!) times??  Not me, that's for sure...

Two of my best guy friends landed the unfortunate task of cleaning out the papers in the den, and set to work sorting papers into keep and toss piles.  Mr. Right and I were working in the kitchen I think, when, at 15 minute intervals, one of my friends began shouting, "I found another husband!".  Seriously.  After the 2nd declaration, we had to stop and go for dinner.  There may or may not have been a margarita involved.  I knew Mom had been married 3 times (seemed like plenty to me), but it turns out my father was #3, not #1.  She married the first time when she was 16, divorced and married again at about 18.  They divorced when she was about 21.  And she never. said. a. word.  Not ever.

So, the questions at hand are:  Who were these guys?  Why did she get married so young? 

Mystery #2

My biological grandfather did what for a living?

When I was in college, my mom and grandmother were talking and let it slip that Grandma had been married to someone before Grandpa, and Hubby #1 was my mom's biological father.  As the story goes, he wasn't a great guy and was heavily involved in organized crime.  Seriously?  I always thought this picture of my grandma (it's my favorite, isn't it great?) was a Halloween costume or a joke.  Maybe it was just a candid family photo?

The questions at hand:  Is this true?  What's his story?  Is he still alive?  I have a name, so it's time to start doing some digging on the ol' interwebs...

Mystery #3

My great-great grandmother died how?

Family history says that my great-great grandmother on my mom's side committed suicide well into her 80s.  This was a lady who'd come to California in a covered wagon, raised a whole pile of kids (3 or 4 at least), and been married at least two (likely 3) times. What on earth would bring her to end it all at that late date?  Here's a picture of her with 3 of her children, my great grandmother (aka Nana), and 2 great, great uncles...

She's the cute old lady in the chair.  I want to know why she decided to make an early (does it count as early if you're 80 something?) exit.  I have a few leads on extended family to chase down.  I'm hoping one of them will remember her.

And that is it... for now.  I have at least 3 more mysteries to chase down, but I'll save them for another time.  Since it appears that the earlier generations of my family have squeezed all of the exciting (read dramatic) genes out of our blood line, I'm off to pack up leftover tuna casserole for Mr. Right and I for lunch tomorrow.  What can I say, it's my fate!

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