So…Forget the Alamo?

For the first time in 20 years, I’m on the hunt for a long lost ancestor.

Last time I looked for this guy, I discovered his parents, siblings, children. Yet there was no sign he’d been born into the family that raised him.

That’s how my research stayed for a long time.

Yesterday, I found his biological parents – definitely different than the folks who raised him. And quite possibly a different line than I was hoping for.

Image capturing cover page of Arteaga, Coahuila parish records 1820-1861

It’s time to go through Mexican parish records again so we can connect family dots and learn more about a pivotal ancestor.

That missing piece
Funny, how we always look for that missing piece – the missing relative, the runaway cat, the lost puppy  – and we’re not satisfied until we know their status. Happy endings preferred, of course.

I wonder whether we’re just trying to plug holes to cover up cracks in our lives … or if what we’re really after is wholeness or belonging, regardless of the amount of ugly it takes to get there.

For this ancestor, I always wanted to know whether he was born to different parents than those he grew up with. Now I have my answer, and I still want more. I want the whole story.

Perhaps his mom died during childbirth, or maybe he’s the stepchild, “the milkman’s son,” as it were.  Who cares. He’s my relative, and now I feel responsible to bring his story to life.

Oh – it looks like our shot at being related to Spanish/Mexican nobility is going downhill…fast.

When your family’s roots start digging in

Well, that was a surprise.

So I went online tonight on a whim to see what all has happened in the world of online genealogy since I took my last serious look (several years ago).

If you are impartial to having your ancestors “baptized” posthumously by Mormon missionaries, this one’s for you.

pullinghair-smWhat had taken me hours upon hours – no, months upon months – to compile in family history was, quite literally, fairly easy tonight in the space of an hour or two.

I’m a huge technology advocate and often an early adopter, so I appreciate the leapfrogging advances that come every few months in the world of tech. To see it some 20 years later, though – that was on a scale I wasn’t expecting. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it is simply amazing how easy this has gotten.

I still have a lot of validating to do, but Lord knows I did that homework way back when. Now I am plugging in facts and literally connecting people-dots.

The coolest part: It looks like I’m getting closer to validating that our family were among the founding fathers of the San Antonio de Bexar – San Antonio, Texas.

I really do think my head might pop.

Priming the family story pump

When I was starting my family research paper for my Mexican American history class so many years ago, my professor told us to start with what we know — to start with the living.

Continuing to learn and tell my family’s history means a lot to me. I’m a dots connector, so when I see the past and present woven together through story, it puts me in awe of time, of history, of my own life and how I got here.

In fact it fills me with, I don’t know, a confidence in knowing and understanding a little more about who I am. It helps me feel like I belong. For someone who grew up as a minority in most situations, that is saying a lot.

And I can only imagine what it could mean to more of my loved ones.

I feel a family history project coming on
So I’m feeling another family history “project” coming on, but this one’s gonna need some help from my familia. They just don’t know it yet.

It’s time again to follow Dr. Zamora’s advice and capitalize on the time we have with those of us who are still here. I mean, each of us can come up with at least one story or memory to share, right?

There’s always a party pooper, but they can stay home from the party*. I just think it would be great to honor senior family members, as well as those who have gone ahead of us.

I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

* You’ll learn soon enough that I have a special fondness for música tropical, namely salsa. It’s not uncommon in some songs to label party-poopers — the ones who never enter the dance floor — as los aburridos (the bored ones). So sad.

Pan Am: Talk about shipping – or not

Welcome to my #Day4 post of #YourTurnChallenge with Seth Godin.

I was just hours from being shipped off to NYC as my base. Undoubtedly, I’d be flying international flights, primarily. Most of us newbies would.

We were Pan Am Flight Attendant Class #21, and we’d just completed six weeks of “Barbie Doll Boot Camp” (well, that’s what we called it) in Miami, living out of suitcases the whole time  — you know, to get the hang of it.

We trained together, ate together, exercised together and qualified for our new posts together — including that huge, inflatable emergency slide.

IMG_4554The Q Flight
My qualification flight to Mexico City took place a few days before I would head to NYC. All I can remember was working First Class on the outbound flight – a large but mostly empty cabin upfront. Incredibly uneventful.

And then there was the return flight, which I nearly missed. (Now, after having flown to Mexico City for work a few times since then, I completely understand why.)

I worked Economy on the way back — a distinct difference from the trip to Mexico’s capital. We had about 400 passengers — all hungry, probably except for the guy whose Kosher meal I forgot. Another passenger was so thirsty, I poured coffee all over his lap.

Back to the night of graduation. My mom had flown in to see me off, I had done really well in training and had been promised many opportunities, and it was my turn to receive my certificate.

I showed up “dead-heading” – in street clothes, rather than uniform. And I bailed. I withdrew from employment with one of the “sexiest” airlines around (no pun intended, but whatever).

And it had nothing to do with the job.

Over the last six weeks, I’d been running from grief. My father had died of lymphoma nine months earlier, and I now realized I hadn’t really grieved his passing or how much I missed him.  Or how much my mom and I needed each other.

I’d been going too fast, with multiple attempts to return to college, a big breakup and now Pan Am.

Pan Am was fun, but not all that fun when my mind was on family. It was time to go home.

It’s not like I have never “what if’d” that decision, but the fantasy can’t beat my reality. My career took me around the world in a whole other context, for which I will be forever grateful and changed.

And you know what? I finally learned how to live out of a suitcase.