Today’s assignment is to make a prompt personal. The prompt:
Two plus two equals four: yes or no?
I started blogging two years ago. I have four blogs. That’s a two and a four but not much of a story there. The common thread that runs through all of my blogs is my passion for discovering family history and preserving it so that future generations will have an easy starting point when they’re ready to discover their roots.
Two plus two equals four – to be sure
But after four there’s so much more.
When Nicola Nunziato Sabio Giorgio and Filomena Pace began their life together in the small fishing village of San Vito Chietino in the province of Chieti on the eastern coast of Italy in the late-1850s they probably never imagined that four of their sons (Ciro, Adriano, Pasquale and Romualdo – the only four to reach adulthood) would leave Italy for America. But you can read about what they never imagined.
They probably never imagined that their daughters, who married and remained in Italy, would have great grandchildren who would one day be in contact with their sons’ descendants in America.
My husband grew up without knowing anything about his Italian heritage. The only grandparent my husband knew was his father’s mother – Eleanor Clark. She never talked about her first husband; they divorced when Rick’s father, the oldest of three boys, was about nine years old. But she wore the ring that Fred George gave her until the day she died. Rick remembers the ring.
Rick was 20 before his father mentioned that his own father “might” be Italian. Rick’s mother might have been able to provide some information if she hadn’t left her four children when Rick was only six and Robin, the youngest, was four. So Bea wasn’t much help except to offer another equation.
One plus one equals four (Fred and Bea = Susan, Lynn, Rick and Robin) minus one (Bea) equals five – and so many questions.
Considering that Dad grew up without a father – or perhaps because of it – he did an amazing job raising his four children without a wife.
Despite Rick’s best efforts to get as much information as he could from his father about his family, Dad didn’t remember much. He had a few hazy memories of visiting his father’s family – especially his uncles. He thinks they were named – Gene, Joe, Hubert, Victor. He remembers his Dad had a pharmacy in Midland, Pennsylvania. He thinks that’s when things weren’t going so well for his mother and father – they fought a lot. They were both very stubborn. He remembers eating gnocchi at his grandmother’s house – it was the best gnocchi he ever had.
But through the discoveries we made when Rick had his DNA tested three years ago, we’ve put the missing puzzle pieces together. We found Terry – a likely third cousin who grew up with her Italian family – in Western Pennsylvania. That’s how we learned where the Giorgio boys came from. Her great grandfather and Rick’s great grandfather were brothers. She remembers George family reunions with as many as 130 people in attendance. She also remembered that one of Adriano’s granddaughters – Irene – lived near by. She graciously arranged and introduction – and Irene provided lunch – when we went to Pennsylvania in the summer of 2013 to meet Terry and learn more about the family we never knew.
Through Irene we learned that her Uncle Fred was married to Betty and had three children. No – she didn’t know he’d had a wife and children before he married Betty. If anyone else in the family knew it, it was not something they ever talked about. So nobody in the family knew about Fred’s first family until we showed up. As we’ve heard so many times since we met Terry and Irene in the summer of 2013 – “most people in the George family don’t talk much about their past.”
That’s why it’s so much fun to discover the past that nobody talked about and bring it to life. That’s why it’s fun to meet the George family we never knew we had – whether in person, by phone, through email or on Facebook.That’s why I get a thrill every time someone shares a new picture or story. That’s why I spend a lot of my free time exploring the past.
That’s why -two plus two equals four – and so much more.