What were you thinking when you named three sons John?
Why is your year of birth different on you marriage record from what it was on you army enlistment?
Why did you list you uncle as your father?
And all those other mysteries a genealogists struggles with.
One person I would really like to meet is my great-grandmother, Aurelia Orsi Petrini. I’ve written about her before (here). Of course I would ask her about my grandma; Did she really dislike her? Did she really mislead Grandma when gave her the family sauce recipe? Or were some of those stories exaggerations by my grandmother?
But I’d also have other questions for her. Since I never knew my grandfather, I’d ask what he was like growing up. I’ve heard storied about him being quite the trouble-maker, but only 2nd and 3rd hand from my mother and her sisters? Was he really as difficult as the stories lead me to believe?
I’d want to ask about her experiences as a young immigrant mother. What was it like to travel by boat to America with three young children, and your husband waiting for you on the other side? Were you afraid as you stepped onto the shores of your new country? Excited? Regretful? Did you ever wish you hadn’t come? What was the best thing about coming here? And what do you most miss about Italy?
I’d want her to share the family stories—stories of growing up in a small village in Tuscany. I’d want to know about her parents; and their parents—back as far as she could tell me.
I’m trying to learn Italian, using Duolingo and Coffee Break Italian. If I could meet her, I’d ask her to spead Italian to me; to help me practice and understand. To learn of the region and the culture she grew up with.
And if I was really lucky, at the end of the day, we’d sit down to a great spaghetti dinner—one she’d let me help her with so I could learn first hand the secrets of her sauce! And of course, I’d pull out my iPhone and take a selfie with her, and I’d finally have a picture of her!
To learn more about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow, visit her website here.