It was in 1999, after my uncle’s death, when we cleared out his home and tried to organize the mass of materials he had left behind, that I came upon the folder filled with family research materials on the maternal side of our family that he had collected over the years. I wasn’t interested in family research at all at the time, but didn’t have the heart to throw the folder away, so I put it in one of the boxes I decided to keep. I don’t really remember how long I let the boxes sit in the attic before I took the time to go through them one more time to sort out what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. After taking a closer look at the folder that was filled with notes, old letters, family pictures, and lists of names most of which were unfamiliar to me, I decided to take the time to continue the simple family tree going back three or four generations that my uncle had put together, just out of curiosity to find out who all these people were and how they were related to me.
Parallel to that I began to write down my personal story of growing up without my biological father and searching for him as an adult. I did it just for myself and didn’t tell anybody about it. I felt it was too private, too personal to be shared with anybody.
The two projects I was working on would soon consume all my spare time. The plan was to keep them apart. I was willing to share the family information on the German side of my family with others, but my personal story was supposed to remain private. However, the deeper I got into it, the more I realized that it was impossible to keep them apart. It was the story of my life that I was writing down and the genealogical history of my ancestors, inseparably interwoven with each other.
Instead of locking my story away because it is too private, I finally decided to share it with others and hope, by sharing my story, others will feel encouraged to share theirs as well.
There were those who ruled kingdoms,
and made a name for themselves by their courage,
those who gave advice because they were intelligent,
those who were prophets,
those who led the people by their wisdom and knowledge,
those who wrote music or poetry,
rich people, living peacefully in their homes,
all these were honored in their day,
and were the pride of their times.
Some of them have left behind a name,
so that others praise them,
but of others there is no memory,
they died without anyone knowing them,
but these also were Godly people,
whose good deeds have not been forgotten,
their children will continue forever,
and their glory will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives on generation after generation.
Ecclesiasticus 44: 1-10, 13-14.
Ute H. Wyatt