Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coming into the home stretch

In 2008 I was sent an obituary, my mentor and friend Chuck Knuthson had died.  I hadn’t talked with him for a couple of years.  I felt terrible. I regretted not keeping in touch with him and I felt sorry for myself.  It felt as if in losing Chuck I had lost the last bit of connection I had to the world of genealogy.

 Flash forward five years.  I haven’t touched genealogy at all.  I’ve tried knitting, cross stitch, scrapbooking, reading clubs, and various other hobbies.  None satisfied.  I’d lost my passion.  I couldn’t find a job I liked.  Nothing made me happy like genealogy had. 

One night a last spring I walked into my husband’s office and told him I was thinking about going to the National Genealogy Society’s Conference in Salt Lake City.  I asked him if he thought we could afford it.  He looked at me incredulous and said with excitement in his voice, “Are you going back to work?”  I told him I didn’t know, “Let’s see if the conference lights the fire again, can we afford it?”  “We’ll find a way.”

 I love my husband.

I love genealogy.  I had a great time at the conference.  I began to remember all the things I had forgotten.  The lingo started to filter through my cobwebbed brain.  I started to realize how much I had to do to catch up to were I had been.  I experienced a moment of panic.  I felt lonely and I missed my mentor Chuck.  He had been there to help me understand and make sense of all the records.  He had introduced me to so many wonderful people and now few of them even recognized me.  I was a nobody without Chuck.  I wallowed in my pity party for about a half a day.  Then my friend Craig showed up.

Craig and I met in Alabama years ago at Samford.  Through various conferences and Samford we became good buddies.  Over a great Indian dinner Craig listened to me tell him about land records and handwriting , deeds and my confusion with it all.  His eyes did not glaze over (as my husband might do), he listened with the interest of a fellow genealogist who understands our particular form of madness.  He allowed me to voice my fears out loud.  And as all monsters do in the light the fears began to shrink.

Thank you Craig.

I went back to the conference and took some beginning level classes.  It was humbling.  But I also discovered that I had not forgotten everything.  There was hope.

Then I ran into Paula Stuart Warren in the vendor area.  She and I shared a couple of tears over Chuck’s memory and I no longer felt alone.

Thank you Paula.

I went then and there to the Association of Professional Genealogist’s  booth and once again joined.  I went to the National Genealogy Soiety booth and joined.  I went to the Genealogical Speakers Guild booth and signed up.  I inquired about classes.  I bought new software.  I talked to everyone.  I began taking baby steps.

I was back.  And I was on fire.

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