In the category of “firsts,” I’m going to a wedding in Kentucky this weekend. Now, while I certainly have been to weddings before, I have not been to one where I’ve never even met the bride or groom! But, before you think “wedding crasher,” think again. I actually am an invited guest.
Confused? Well, let me enlighten you…
I started looking into my father’s ancestry about five years ago. After logging hours of research on Ancestry.com, sifting through hundreds of online documents, and making dozens of phone calls, I slowly but surely built my paternal tree. Then, on a beautiful, clear day in August of 2010, I found myself traipsing through the various Baker Street cemeteries in Boston in search of known and unknown relatives to record various linkages and connections.
With general plot locations in hand, thanks to the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, I intentionally sought out the section known as the Crawford Street Cemetery in pursuit of the grave of my great-grandfather. I knew that he was buried there, but suspected there were other ancestors nearby as well. In virtually no time at all, I found him. And, sure enough, in the adjacent row was his mother, my great-great grandmother. I couldn’t have anticipated, however, that lying directly next to her was her brother! How did I know it was he? Both tombstones listed the name of the same father.
These unexpected surprises added a new branch to my tree and opened up an entirely new dimension of my hunt for family. Within a few hours of this discovery, I was introduced to a previously unknown fourth cousin. The woman and I clicked from the moment we started emailing and talking. It was immediately clear that we were of the same DNA. As time went on, circumstances enabled me to meet one of her brothers, her mother, and her aunt…but not her.
All that will change tomorrow. My fourth cousin – the bride – and I will meet face-to-face for the first time in Kentucky. My husband and I are going to celebrate her wedding with her and her family – a group of people with whom I share some blood, yet really do not know.
Our hearts and minds are open as we embrace this new adventure. We know that even virtual strangers can compare stories and find meaningful associations with each other. As I see it, life is about learning, exploring, connecting, and growing. And, to experience all of that, sometimes you have to go to a wedding reception in Kentucky!