I am now caught up with my viewing of the NBC/Ancestry.com miniseries, “Who Do You Think You Are?” with last week’s episode featuring Lisa Kudrow. If you have not seen this episode, you can watch it on Hulu. I have it posted below.
Lisa Kudrow set off for Belarus and Poland to find out about her great-grandmother’s fate during the Holocaust and to meet her father’s first cousin of whom he had only met once in the 1940s. Like others in the series thus far, there is an emotional connection to what was experienced in the past as it collides with the present.
One of the first principle rules of genealogical research is to talk to those who were alive at the time certain events occurred so as to have a firsthand account. Lisa not only talked to this long lost relative but an elderly woman who was her grandmother’s childhood friend back in her home village.
While I have never had this sort of encounter, I have had the chance to connect with long lost relatives. Most of this occurred in 1978 and one particular encounter allowed me to connect with my father’s two oldest first cousins on his father’s side. These two octogenarian sisters, Essie and Viola, remembered my grandfather, their uncle, well. He had lived in their home for a while prior to his marriage to my grandmother and both just loved their Uncle George dearly.
My meeting was quite enjoyable and I learned a great deal from these sisters including deep dark secrets of the family that told of illegitimacy and a family row over an inheritance that divided two groups of relatives 60 years previous. One sister remembered my father visiting her in a like manner in 1960 when he searched out his relatives in Ohio. Without their personal knowledge of events, names, and places, this information would have been lost over the decades.
Although Lisa Kudrow’s encounter was more emotional, my meeting of these long lost family members was just as important to me. I had been looking to make a connection to my grandfather and his ancestors and this was a great starting point. Flashing forward to 1991, I had the opportunity to meet Essie’s granddaughter who lives about an hour from me and this helped me continue the connection into another generation.