I started my genealogy journey barely with grandparents’ names on one side. My mom was from Shelby, Mississippi. She had come here in the late 60s, estranged from her then husband and already with 9 kids. (She would in the end have 12; I am the youngest.) She never talked much about her family. A few times, I would remember her talking with my grandmother, who still lived in Shelby. My grandfather used to visit quite a bit as well. She would mention colorful names, when speaking with my grandmother, like Sonny Boy, Pumpkin, Sidda Baby, Sug (as in Sugar), and Red. Later, I would learn that she was known as Punch and not many called her by her given name.
My grandfather went missing when traveling from Mississippi to Chicago to visit my mom when I was four. He may have been in the first stages of Alzheimer’s. My grandmother died when I was 12. The last time that I saw her I was a lot younger than that. When I was ten or so, we discovered that we had been living just a block away from my mother’s nephew and his family.
The assumption among my siblings and I was that my mom had lost contact with her family in Mississippi, especially after the loss of her parents. Even after discovering her nephew lived so close, we still thought that she was not in contact with them. I discovered that she was always in contact with someone from her hometown or some who came from her hometown when I placed an ad in the Shelby, Mississippi newspaper. It was my attempt to claim information that my mother said she did not have. It was information on her grandparents. Well, within less the week, my email box was flooded with not-so-distant relatives. I was told that my mother spoke with someone at least once a week and that she often visited. They gave me loads of information. My mother later corroborated this information and had a few pictures.
I have my suspicions on why my mother was so secretive. I will address those assumptions in another post.