By Mickey Dunaway
In the last few weeks since I was last in this space, I have been busy researching my next book, which tells the story of my grandfather’s branch of my family in the setting of a historical novel.
Using my relations near and distant, the novel will tell the story of both, but it will conclude with five remarkable women who survived the war and led our family to the American dream.
As knowledge of ancestors has increased, I have discovered how little I know about my earliest life—my life before my memories began to form. That time is a bucket of unknowns. Fortunately, I have a brother four years older and he has been a guide to filling in gaps.
Sometimes, I have sensations of a memory—flashes between neurons that come and go without lingering. Part of this project is to build an electronic space where those memories can reside for my children, grandchildren, and my extended family. To create that box of ones and zeroes, I quickly found that I need to look for sources outside my immediate family.
Persons like my remarkable Aunt Hazel, who at 96 is the last living member of a group of Dunaway-wives who lived out WWII with the unknowns of first babies and husbands who were in combat in nameless places. As one of those war-baby cousins recently told me, these women often didn’t have the proverbial pot to piss in or a window to throw it out off! I talked to Aunt Hazel on the phone recently, and I will see her soon. She is the last living member of the five women. Of the five babies born to them during the war, three remain. I am a baby boomer, as are four other cousins born soon after the war. Four are living today. I expect we all share the dilemma of knowing very little about our lives in the period before our first memories were formed.
I will keep you posted from time to time once I start writing, but I leave you today with a request: Don’t let another week go by without starting to explore how you got where you are today. It has never been easier, and our children and grandchildren have never needed that knowledge more.
Ancestry is perhaps the best well-known program to help you explore your ancestors. But Family Search,designed by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, is just as good and is FREE!
Find your Aunt Hazel, brothers, sisters, and cousins, and let them be your guides to the past you do not remember. Then share those new memories with your extended family.
That is a legacy that we all can be proud to leave.