Searching So Long, I Felt I Knew Him

1895 passenger list

I SUFFERED a BIT OF A SHOCK Saturday evening when I discovered a great-grandfather I’ve been researching never made the crossing, but died while in England. His wife and children traveled on. It hit me hard. I guess I’ve typed his name into search boxes for so long I felt I knew him.

I found his name on his children’s marriage records under “groom’s father’s name” or “bride’s father’s name.” Beyond that, I could find nothing. No census data. No military service records. No mention on any incoming passenger lists. No wonder.

It was the strangest sense of loss, though, like a character in a story I’ve been following a long, long time.

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Clinical Trial Week #10 – A Project and A Postponement


I’ve been working on a project these past 10 weeks, figuring out the ancestry, locating the roots. It wasn’t in my plans, but a mystery 2nd cousin popped up around the same time the clinical trial started. After we figured out our connection, I decided to continue on, tracing the various family lines. I made it my project for the length of the clinical trial.

I like having a project.
I like having parameters, too. Deadlines.
I allocated an hour per day. I usually ran over, except for the days I skipped altogether. It’s addictive.

I must say…..My head, after 10 weeks of working on the family tree, is a lot like my head after returning home from a writers’ conference. Sooooo many stories swirling! I need to process.

NJ History

YESTERDAY was supposed to be the LAST of the 10 weekly trips to Columbus, but the celebration is on hold. We hit a little snag, the details of which I am reluctant to share because they reflect poorly on the hospital, which has, up until now, never failed in its efficiency. Wally is fine (that’s key, so I’m putting it in boldface), but he’ll be returning to Columbus on Friday to receive the treatment he was scheduled to receive yesterday. All to say, our celebration has been postponed.

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Seven Turns to Get There


when everyone wishes
the dark clouds
hanging heavy and low for so long
would get it over with already and break open,

I drive to the consignment shop
with the bottom half of a hutch
I have held onto too long
or not long enough
or just the right amount of time.
Maybe I don’t need to judge that.

It had come to rest
in a dark corner of the family room
where I didn’t need to look at it all the time.
I used it for overflow storage,
a term that suggests to me
I am carrying through life
more than I need.

It is seven turns to get there.
After the fifth,
off Dutchmans Lane,
I check my rearview for Wally’s car
carrying the top half.

I thought I could manage it all myself
with just a little help loading –
two men wait at the other end to unload –
but the thing was too wide
or too deep
or too long by a hair
for my small car.

So inefficient,
two cars going to the same place,
but maybe even this is a form of grace.

There is something about the feel
of my hands on the wheel
each turn,
like I am owning the conveyance.
Perhaps he needs that, too.
Maybe grace comes at times
in the form of circumstances that force things
and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Paperwork complete,
I head home
with nothing more
than the blanket I had used as cushioning,
not needed now.

Two drops on the windshield, then a downpour.
I turn the wipers to high speed,
which, being a shy person,
I rarely use.

And after that, relief.

Backstory: The Small Hutch

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