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Family history is something I’ve been curious about for as long as I can remember. Over time, I’ve collected pieces of my mom’s and her parents’ immigration story by asking them questions whenever I found a gap that needed to be filled. I thought I had all of the pieces of the puzzle, that there was nothing else to learn. Then I did 23andme in January, and it sparked a new chapter of curiosity. Not because my ancestry results were surprising (I am a true child of the Mediterranean 🙌🏼), but because it reminded me how much more there still was to learn.
The time we spent in Campania this July was a way for me to reconnect with the land where my mom and her parents came from and my family still living there. It felt new; it felt familiar. I picked up a few pieces of history from my cousins despite the language barrier, and even more from my Aunt Mary in Switzerland that I never imagined were part of the story. I’ll get to that, later.
Our trip to Europe started conversations that are filling in some of the gaps on my mom’s side, but my dad’s family history is a vacuum. All I know is some of his relatives came from Calabria, but I don’t know exactly where or who or when. He only had one grandparent as a kid and didn’t ask questions. After today, I know there will be many gaps I can never fill. My Great Uncle Joe had some of the answers, and I had been meaning to ask if I could talk to him. But I kept putting it off, assuming there would always be time. He was diagnosed with metastatic cancer last week after not feeling well for months. Today, he died. He was the kind of person who would light you up whenever you saw him.
This is all to say, if you have important questions to ask, or connections to make, don’t keep shoving it off until it’s convenient. I’ve always wanted to learn to cook old family recipes that aren’t written down, and I hope I can do that the next time I see my grandparents I do have. Tomorrow is never certain.