What’s in my name the Daily Challenge wants to know. That’s a difficult question because my family disconnected from the rest of our relatives since I was eleven. That was the year both my grandfathers died and the war between my mother, and her perceived right is might started and never ended.
I can answer two-thirds of that question because my parents told me the story of how I got my first and middle name. The first name chosen for me was Cassandra. My father picked it. I’ve no idea where it came from or why he adored it. I would have ended up a Cass, Cassie, Sandy or since I’d been bullied well into adulthood, the Ass. However, my mother in her wisdom, didn’t think it was a proper name to yell out the second story window when calling me home and decided on Charlene after my father Charles. I hate Charlene, and been various spellings of Charlie, Charlee, Charley, and finally Charly since grade school. Dad was Chuck.
Carol is my middle name. My Godmother, Aunt Puny, the smallest, the normal-sized, and youngest of the tall females in my mother’s family was actually named Carolyn. She named me after her, as did Aunt Puny’s daughter, and their brother, Boy, my uncle Art’s daughter. We ended up with three cousin Carols in my mother family.
My dad’s father emigrated from the Transylvania region on Hungary in 1907 with a wife name Rose and settled in the Pittsburgh area. His mother, Amalia Orban, forever after known as Amelia, came from the same region around 1911 to serve as a cook to a wealthy Cleveland family. Somewhere along the way, Rose disappeared, and in 1915 Paul Makray married Amelia Orban in Chicago, Illinois.
The only story I heard growing up was my grandparents met as children in an orphanage. But my grandmother’s entire family, sans father, was intact, and had settled one trip at a time, in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Only her oldest brother shortly visited to bring great mother over and returned to run a farm in Kosice. I’ve found birth records of all the children except the son that went back to the old country.
I was 34 years old before my father told me grandpa had a brother living in Pittsburgh, PA. I had more cousins? Immediately I called information, tracked on down, and got on the telephone (this was pre-computer days). We talked for a couple of hours, learned his grandfather had never mentioned anything about a brother either. Why? I don’t understand this.
Grandpa’s nephew kept in touch with our family. We connected with theirs. My grandmother was very family oriented. I have Lawrence Ones letters and notes from my grandfathers funeral. But there are no photographs left in our family. Perhaps my dad’s brother had them, but he was as secretive as the rest of the male clan. Eventually, through Ancestory.com I did meet a step-child, a great-granddaughter of my grandfather’s brother who is also trying to put her family together. She is having the same problem I’m getting. The Pennsylvania families don’t talk to each other either.
Sadly, the contact I had, the wonderful link between our two families, died in a car accident a few years ago. His parents are gone, as are his grandparents. His name was the fourth generation to carry the name of that young man who first set foot in American with his mother a few month after my grandfather. His father arrived a couple of years earlier to establish a foundation for the family, and when my grandfather arrived he went to his brother’s address.
My grandfather was fairly well-educated, always wore a suit and tie to work each day, owned his own business, and held patents for several items within ten years of arriving in America. It never made him a millionaire, but he produced one additional son, that did live the American dream.
After four generations we still don’t keep in touch even though at some time during the year we’re all within a couple of hours of each other. Is it a genetic trait? Only three of us related through my grandmother, have managed to put together a small family and are trying to gather some old memories and facts. One is also my cousin on my dad’s side so all the information I gather will pass to her. Her children will at least have some idea of what this branch of their family tree links back to.
Personally, I hate being disconnected. I would have loved to have had memories to share into my doddering years with wrinkled cousins and their smooth-faced offspring. Even if we tried to blend now, what would we talk about? Like original sin, original disconnection has caused a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon. Our lives have moved on like the water over the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls. Reconnection would be about genealogy and perhaps genetics. I wonder if there’s any time left for friendship and mending fractured bridges.