Thursday, January 29, 2015

ThrowBack Thursday ~ a non Ongoing Feature that Will Go On

It started with a photo. Ok, it didn't really just start with a photo but I've always wanted to use that line, and it's pretty much true in context. It was barely less than a week ago...

I've been searching for information, any information about my mother's family, of whom I'd never met a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or a cousin, for a really long time, as in decades. Somehow that slipped by osmosis into my daughter Sarah. Different times, she in the age of information harvesting that, though I consider myself good at gathering, she excels. 

My maternal grandfather, Robert Farquhar Holden 1913 at Harvard
The thing is, this was posted on by a woman I'd never heard of in my life. Who was this person claiming that MY grandfather Sarah had worked so hard to find was also her grandfather? And so it began to unravel, the ball of knotted yarn of a side of my being that has been (and in some ways still is) shrouded in silence for way too long. 

That woman turned out to be my first cousin, Liz. After a slightly hesitant start on both sides, we confirmed our connections and now she is my cousin, really and truly, with whom I exchange lengthy emails, filled with stories: stories that connect us, stories with amazing coincidences in our lives (ex. - she and her husband lived on St. Croix and St. Thomas with an overlap of one year of me living there, before moving to Culebra - meaning she knows exactly where Culebra is!). Each time an email alights in my inbox with her name on it, it is like opening another chapter of the very best book...

When I told my brother about it, he summed it up pretty well. "This reminds me of that commercial where this lilting voice says 'I followed a little leaf!'. Sarah followed a leaf and the whole damn tree fell down!' He is as excited as I and it is a Christmas morning excitement, finding what you asked for and then finding more that you hadn't even thought to imagine asking for. 

Living on Culebra, where family is such a huge part, with 70 year olds caring for their closing in on century old parents, where a party is barely a party unless everyone from the grandfather to the newest baby is close at hand, where family history isn't just a dusty book of photos but a daily, living entity, full of demands and obligations and rewards with laughter and tears and the simply mundane  and the high joys of everyday-ness. 

There has always been a little feeling of me leaning against a door that is full of wondering, a door that refuses to stay closed. Now that door has swung open wide, with so much tumbling out it is almost cartoonish, sitting dazed and smiling in the aftermath, picking up one jewel after another. 

I've found out that England and Wales and Spain run through my blood. Yes, Spain, the Garcia's from Oviedo, Austurias, Spain to be exact. Does that explain my strange love of Spain? Nah, Spain is just easy to love. My attraction to Latin culture? I'll give a tip of the hat there. At least I think a little Spanish is easier to grasp than Welsh! It certainly makes for a new addition to the bucket list.

And I have a favorite new grandmother quote from a great great grandmother I never knew about, but I do now. When confronted with the down the nose sneering of our WASPy Back Bay Bostonian side of the family concerning her heritage, she made a comment that came down through history as "When your English ancestors were still painting their faces blue running around in animal skins, my ancestors had art, music and literature!" Some things must certainly be genetic! Oh these wonderful women.

Have a tap-into-it Thursday. Do something tightrope-walking-ish. With a net.


  1. Love your great great Grandma :-)

  2. I find it fascinating to play on I followed my 8-times great grandfather back to England on my mother's side. I found a picture of the ship my grandfather came over to America on, as well as his entry papers, naturalization papers, and he and my grandmother's marriage license. So cool! Love your greatgreatgreat grandma, too :)

  3. On cape cod/Boston, decades ago 60's -70-s- there was a music group called the " Fabulous Farquhar." They were extremely popular. You're right its a Bostonian name. certainly uncommon but I remember meeting people with that surname. I'm wales, Ireland scotland. Snowdonia was our kingdom, kicked out by the King of consolidation, took away hundreds of fiefdoms, Snowdonia was ours, gave us titles in ireland, the the irish kicked us out, King gave us land grants in delaware river, we mined ore, richard snowden 1647?. we found a home in the colonies, married and grew, we mixed with the Carrolls of baltimore( he a reticent signer of the declaration- but Carrolll stepped up and risked his neck). what fun its been to see the horse thief's and bandits and innovators the lineage begat( wright bros.) on my grandmothers side. Love your blog, read it daily at 5:30 - 6 pm.