A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a young lady who discovered the memorial I created on Find-a-grave about her grandfather. She hadn’t known where he was buried prior to that discovery.
I created the memorial when after a Pay-It-Forward day of taking tombstone photos and posting them on Find-a-grave. I’ve been surprised how many contacts have originated from these expeditions and subsequent postings over the years. The contacts are typically friendly but at times their comments are very moving as well.
Not knowing where her grandfather was buried was not the fault of this young lady. Grandpa had been murdered by a pair of psychopaths and the family had been broken up as a result. He and his wife were divorced a short time before the murder which injected all the issues and pain associated with divorce into the family history. A few years later, grandma died in a horrible vehicle accident, leaving a lot of children without parents. They were farmed out to family members and others to raise. By the time the young lady came onto the scene and grew up, memory of her blood ancestors was forgotten to a large degree. The adopting or foster families had become the grandparents that the youngest generation in the family knew and remembered.
One day, the young lady stated thinking about her ancestry and after asking a few questions, found the name of her blood grandparents. Her Google query found the Find-a-grave memorial I had created which led to an email to me.
As we visited about what knowledge she had about her grandparents, it was readily evident that she knew her grandfather was murdered but not too much more.
How could I leave her ‘stranded’ with just a scant knowledge about the lives of her grandparents? She didn’t have the research skills or resources that I enjoy. It was time to Pay-It-Forward again.
The quest to find information about her grandparents only took four or five hours. I quickly found their obituaries and newspaper stories about their deaths. Of course there were far more articles about the death of her grandfather than of the auto accident that claimed the life of her grandmother. The details of his death were gruesome to read. The murdering cousins who took his life during on a killing spree in Utah left a disgusting story that was well-documented in many newspaper articles.
Should I send copies of the nasty articles to her?
At first, I only sent the obituaries and the article about her grandmothers death. She’d just found her grandpa. Could I send her the ugly details of his death only hours after ‘finding’ him?
I did send her a photo of him that was part of one of the articles.
It was the first time she had seen a photo of her grandfather!
Her joy was real. It was Magic. It briefly charged my batteries too but then I knew the rest of the story. My high hovered over a deep low knowing the truth and the pain she would feel when she learned the details of his death.
I let her be happy for a few days before sending the rest of the information and newspaper clippings about his murder. It was her right to know. I hope the happy feeling partially mitigated the despair generated by the truth of his death.
Is this a story of Genealogy Serendipity or just an interesting tale?
It is both.
Serendipity due to the happy event of finding Grandpa.
An interesting but sad tale because of the details of his death but happy because his descendants now know a little more about his life.
When was the last time you Paid-It-Forward? Has your investment come back 7-fold?
It will. Don’t hesitate to help someone who needs your skills, time and resources. There typically isn’t a meaningful cost to it. Only Rewards.
It’s the right thing to do, if you do it for the right reason.