Dad called me on a Wednesday evening. Wednesday, August 22, 2012 to be exact. He told me that he’d decided to stop his dialysis treatments. We all knew this meant not only limited time, but marked time, so my brother and I jumped on a plane to Oregon that Friday. We stayed the weekend and had a wonderful time. He was in the best spirits and absolutely unafraid. He was happier than I’d seen him in years and we talked about “after.” Having not grown up with many beliefs, this was a new topic for us. We also talked about genealogy, which was not a new topic for us. My dad and I were the genealogists of the family, often emailing for hours over our findings. I asked him to look up Miles Price when he “got there” and find a way to send me his parents’ names so that I would know it was from him and know he was okay. He laughed and said he’d do what he could. I knew that if I found something on Miles, it would have to be from another realm, as that information is just not here on this planet!
I left Dad on Sunday, with plans to be back for the remainder of his time that next Friday. On Monday afternoon, the mail brought me Miles’ death certificate. I’d ordered it over a year before along with two others. I got the other two instantly, but Miles’ didn’t arrive. Until that Monday. And it had Miles’ parents’ names listed (Jacob and Rebecca). Genealogical serendipity.
At first I was a bit upset. NOW how was I going to know Dad was okay? Then it clicked to me. Maybe, if I believed this stuff, this was Miles’ way of saying, “Of course he’s going to be okay, you idiot third great granddaughter! We’ve got him covered.” Regardless, I still didn’t have anything specific to ask Dad for now.
I called Dad on Monday night to tell him and we laughed together. He said, “Shorty, if I can find anything when I get there, I’ll pass it along.” I talked to my step-mom on Tuesday night to see how she was doing. I talked to Dad Wednesday night just to say goodnight and I reminded him that I’d be there Friday and I was staying. “You’ll be stuck with me for awhile, Dad.” “Well, Shorty,” he said, “I don’t imagine there is anyone better to be stuck with.” Those were the last words I heard (out-loud) from him.
Now comes more serendipity. Thursday morning as I was checking my email for my updated flight information, I got an email from a woman named Penny. She was doing some research for her best friend and had microfilm from Salt Lake City. She Googled her friend’s family and my information on a blog posting from over 2 years ago came up. She wanted to correct some of the information I had. Oh, and by the way, did I want copies of the baptismal records from Germany and Wisconsin for this part of the family? And since she had them, would I like it for the paternal line that didn’t coincide with her friend’s? She’d be happy to make copies for me. And also, it’s all in old German script. Would I like it translated, since her college major was German with a concentration in old German script? I received three full manilla envelopes of trees and original records.
Later that day, as I waited for my transfer flight in Seattle, I received another email. This time from a gentleman noting that he’d found a note I’d made in 1999 on a forum asking about Mr. Fisher, my husband’s birth father. Did I still need information about him? Did I have these photos of his parents? These were the first photos my husband ever saw of his paternal grandparents.
I stayed in Oregon with my step-mom for two weeks and every single day I got new genealogical information from all parts of our family- maternal, paternal, birth, adopted, from EVERY PART IMAGINABLE. As I got in Dad’s car (that is now mine) to drive the long drive home, I put my hand on the shifter to hold his hand, a habit I still continue, and said, “Dad, I love having this connection to you, but I really think I’m going to need a focus. Can you send me something that you would wish I would focus on?”
When I got home and emptied the car, I found the plastic file folder holder that Molly and I had emptied and I decided to keep for one of my many failed organizing projects. Stuck inside was a moldy torn photograph.
I decided that was my focus. And a mere two years later, this is the result:
Thank you, Dad. I can’t believe it’s been two years since you passed away.