Climbing Family Trees: Connecting the Here and Now by Cassie Bizzigotti

Climbing Family Trees

More great stories, poems, and helpful hints about genealogy and searching for your family's roots from the twin authors of "Climbing Family Trees: Whispers In The Leaves"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Connecting the Here and Now by Cassie Bizzigotti

“Connecting the Here and Now”
Cassie Bizzigotti
San Marcos, CA

Earlier this year in August, a volunteer from the Family History Center came to our church and gave an awesome presentation on genealogy and her own family research. It really got to me. As I was sitting there, I felt as though someone was tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, “Look up Evelyn." It was so real to me.

When I got home I went straight to the computer and looked up my great aunt Evelyn on the IGI. I was so surprised to actually find information about her. I got very excited and decided to look for her husband too. When I found his information I realized there were other distant relatives whom I didn’t know that were working on the same family line.

Through various sources I found someone who was part of my family. The name was George Houck. I called him, but just got an answering machine, disappointed that I had to leave a message. He called me back only ten minutes later and was very excited! We were thrilled to learn that we were both members of the same church too! He told me his life story and we talked for quite awhile. I asked if I could send him a letter or call him again soon. Before saying goodbye, he told me how relieved he was to know that someone else was helping with the genealogy in our family, especially since he didn’t feel he knew very much on the subject.
Unfortunately, I delayed getting back to him - sick kids and busy life got in the way. Two weeks later on September 15th, I finally found some time to write him a letter during my children’s naptime. It was an unusual day because both of my children fell asleep at the same time and stayed asleep for several hours! I spent a good portion of three hours working on the letter. I had so many questions for him. I couldn't wait to meet him. My mom didn’t know him because she had been told that he had the measles as a three year old and was mentally retarded. He actually was physically disabled, but not mentally disabled. My mom was eager to talk to him too. After all, he lived only an hour away! My maternal grandfather’s family had many children but they didn't keep in touch with each other, so my mother didn't know much about George.

That whole day, I couldn't stop thinking about George. I felt like something might be wrong and decided against sending the letter right away. I figured that I would send it the next week. That weekend, I found out that he had died that day. I know that he knows what I wrote in that letter, so it didn't matter that I didn't send it. He was only 47 and had a heart attack at home. I went to his memorial service and met his other friends from church. I found out that he had been in a wheelchair. I would never have known that by just talking to him on the phone! He had sounded very young and strong, with an enthusiasm for life that was infectious. If I had waited just two more weeks to contact him, I would have missed him completely! Ithink a lot of times people forget that family history isn't just about our ancestors – it’s about theliving people in our families today! I'm so glad that I listened to the promptings I felt. Now when I feel a prompting to look for a certain name, I just do it!

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