In the past couple of weeks, I have learned that it’s hard to complete a series of posts about caregiving when you just don’t care. I mean, I love caregiving – wrote a book about it. But lately I’m too swamped with work projects, family fun, nightly reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” and driving all over Southern California to sit down and pay attention to writing something as important as a the final footprint on the journey to care. So instead I’ll blog about my latest learning lesson. I received the gift of Ancestry.com and now I have learned that I am not third or fourth generation Californian, as my mom ALWAYS said. Turns out my family is from Missouri.
I’ll give my crazy mom the benefit of the doubt because almost everything she said warranted a degree of speculation. She was right about her grandmother dying in childbirth. The Ancestry.com data from birth and death records suggests that is true. And she was right that her late grandmother’s name was Amanda White. Just about everything else was bogus. I think she made it up to make me and my brother feel good. I grew up loving that our family was so Irish I had to be named Shannon. From what I’m learning via Ancestry.com, I’m way more English and German than Irish. The blarney was all Mom.
This news doesn’t disturb me the way it might have if I’d discovered it 30 years ago. It’s amusing. I want to know a lot more about the history of Missouri now. My ancestors are from DeKalb, Hannibal, St. Louis, Joplin, and other towns in the “Show Me State.” In the past few days, after discovering all this ancestry stuff, I find myself wanting to ask Missouri to show me who I am.
I have visited Missouri a couple of times in my 60 years on the planet. The first time was while I was in college at U.C. Irvine. I flew one-way to Kansas City. My mom agreed that I could go there to help my friend, Vicki, drive home to Southern California. Vicki was at University of Missouri. She had already done two years at Stephens College, but after a short time at Mizzou, she felt compelled to return to being a full-time California girl. It was one of my first visits out of state beyond Nevada, and I recall the entire experience as quite surreal.
We were supposed to ship Vicki’s footlockers of personal items back to Corona del Mar; but she didn’t want to spend that money. So we tied those big trunks onto the top of her old station wagon instead, with the help of some friendly frat boys. Our younger brothers were sent to accompany us and because Vicki didn’t want to ship the stuff home, the car was jammed even before squeezing me and the two high school boys into it. I remember driving across Kansas and Oklahoma and wishing I’d been able to fly back to LA from Missouri. We had car problems leaving Ft. Worth, Texas and had to stop for more than half a day to get the car fixed. And then we had the hair-brained idea to cross the border to Mexico at Mexicali. It was the early 70′s and there were lots of drug deals happening at the borders. We were four teens with huge trunks on the top of an old station wagon. I can’t tell you how scary the whole experience was. The only thing that saved us was Vicki wearing Mickey Mouse overalls the Border Patrol guys liked. Amen.
If I had known then, in 1972, that almost everyone in my family had come from Missouri, I might have been more interested in the state. If I’d known it when my luggage was lost at the beginning of a travel industry conference in St. Louis in the late 1990′s, I might have been more patient. And surely I would have been happier about driving from Kansas City to the State Fair in Sedalia with a fellow Michael Bolton fan to see him in concert back in 1994. I might have been less of a groupie and more of a historian. Alas, I was just a California girl.
Today, I’m a second generation California woman whose family is from Missouri. And I’m feeling pretty darned proud of it!