As I’m typing this blog entry, I’m sitting in my living room watching the latest episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?’.  They are helping Christina Applegate research her grandparents and what happened to their marriage and the custody of their son (Christina’s father).

The story they are telling, although a very emotional revelation for her, is one that happens in many families.  Most families have the same type of stories buried deep within their history.  The families bury those stories and sometimes even make up alternate stories to protect the children, or others in the family, from hearing the truth….trying to protect them from getting hurt.

My first priority to my family history is not to cover up the past, but to find out the true stories, whether good or bad.  Those involved in each situation are still my family and I love each of them dearly.  Their situations, troubles, successes, failures, etc. are part of who they were and make up the fabulous (although not perfect) family that I belong to.  It’s those imperfections that make each family member unique and a true treasure.

As I watch the end of this episode I’m reminded of my own quest to locate the grave of my mother’s brother Jimmy, in Indiana.  His grave location was “lost” in her memory and I told her that I would help find him.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find his grave until last summer…3 years after my mom passed away.  The fact that she died not knowing where Jimmy was buried hurt me deeply.  And part of my drive in finding my family history stemmed from this one search.  In the process of finding Jimmy, I also found my maternal great grandparents graves and also a great uncle.  None of them have headstones.

Watching Christina and her father go to his mothers grave and seeing their emotions as they laid flowers on the unmarked graves of his mother, grandfather, and aunt brought back the parallel experience I had at the foot of Uncle Jimmy’s and my other relatives graves in Hammond, Indiana.  To hear him say that he would get them a headstone and then watch as they revealed the new stone “Three months later”, was touching.  I will eventually get a headstone (or series of stones) for my relatives….someday.  It’s not an expense that I can afford at the moment.  But it is a promise I will keep.

I’m very pleased that the TLC network chose to film this type of story within this series.  Sometimes it helps those recovering from such tragedies to know that others have dealt with the same issues.  A lot of the previous “stories” in this series (when it was on NBC) showed good stories, war heroes, and happy endings.  To see that Christina and her father were willing to share such an emotional part of their family history is as refreshing as it is heartbreaking.  I cried along with them and have a new determination to make sure that my family will soon have proper headstones on their graves, too.

The Family Plot at Oak Hill Cemetery James Drakopulos, Jr., Charles Lee, Carl Lee, Ida Lee, and a possible unoccupied grave

The Family Plot at Oak Hill Cemetery
James Drakopulos, Jr., Charles Lee, Carl Lee, Ida Lee, and a possible unoccupied grave