Leave No Trail Behind

I was trying to sort out a two-word anagram while in half-sleep Sunday morning. Bouncing off the hollow space within my brain, two young girls ran about in their circa 1950’s church-best clothing. Full shirts, petticoats, ankle socks and patent leather shoes, small straw hats topped hair that curled to their shoulders. The anagram was floating away while the two girls pushed me forward and out of my dream. The imps reminded me of two dolls I’d played with as a child, one was the good girl, the other was the bitch.

In my slumber, I tried to arise from bed and find paper and pen to write out the two words. I’d figured out the spelling of the anagram and the solution. Of course, by the time I actually awoke the words were gone, along with the girls. The answer haunted me all day.

For three years I’ve been working my way through my husband’s family tree. His genealogy is extensive. While still a child, he’d been brought up on an oral tradition of stories and history passed along by his grandparents and the elders of his large family. His family roots were planted long before the extensive research available on the internet. When I started an Ancestory.com membership and began work on his family, those stories, did in fact, point to the very places in his family’s oral traditions. They had kept the stories alive for more than four centuries. Geneology is my addiction. I’m heavily invested in all types of research. Once uncovered, facts are to proven. Additional research, outside of Ancestory.com is opened, with scribbled penmanship, notebooks, outlines, beginnings, endings and do-overs. Researched notables and historic side adventures diagramed.

I time-traveled early 3,000 years into the past and wondered what did these people talk about, dream about, wonder over. Did they even think they would leave a legacy that centuries into the future hundreds, thousands, of their descendants would be curious about? Did they know they were creating historical moments in time?  Were they capable of knowing there would be such a thing in the future as the study of  their history?

The past has become more important to me than the present. My husband’s past is my present. My past only extends to my grandparents. They left no photographs, no notes, no names. With extensive research I’ve only managed to uncover the names of the towns they were born in and their birth dates. They’re from Eastern Europe, ravaged by wars, small villages, records lost or not yet uncovered and posted online. I have an emotional connection to their past but I can’t access it. Although I’ve tried to find it. It remains illusive. I long to know these long gone people who can’t possibly connect with me. In knowing their past I  find comfort from my lack of acceptance with my own present.

In real life, my past was closed down, pulled from me, taken away, or unattainable. My life, as that of my own family genealogy, mirrors a life of no trail left behind. Less than ten photographs of me exist prior to me by the age of fifty. I remember each one, even those not in my possession. I don’t even appear in my high school year book. Since then there are a few photos of my back, a couple of carefully crafted telephoto shots, some highly Photoshopped pics, and a couple of professional engagment photographs.

I have no problem with the difficulty the two dream girls faced attempting to pull me into the present. It’s been several years since I lived in the present. The past couple of years I’ve fallen even deeper into the past, distancing myself from any possibility of leaving a legacy of accomplishment in anything.

Unlike the genealogical deep roots of my husband’s family tree, my family planted seeds of maladjustment that rooted firm and unshakable. Two years ago I set my goal to give one last shot at hitting my life’s target goals. When the deadline passed a year ago, I wavered and let myself ride through it – knowing nothing was going to develop. Midway through last year I started this blog.  I found a way to use a small bit of my old talents, brush off my rusty skills, and push on. When the past year ended, after thirteen years, I closed my business website and its Facebook page. I’d finally accepted that a family clash a few years ago, that ended my  photography business and its income, had  also ended any hope for a future as a photographer.

My legacy is to always lose what I’ve worked towards. There has always been someone stronger, wealthier, more popular, or connected, to shut me out, down, steal, lie, or ignore my contributions. I’m terrified of being noticed, acknowledged, having nothing to say. I’ve become an empty vessel,  a waif unto myself.  I’m further down the trail by learning how to cover my tracks. No one will know I passed this way. I will leave no trail behind. I will move silently among the stream of internet transfer information and only that trail could show I actually existed. It will be rare indeed that anyone will ever seek it out and follow it back to it’s source.

Daily Prompt: Don’t you Forget About Me

Sorry, You’ve Been Disconnected


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.

Submitted to: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/daily-prompt-identity/