Archive for the ‘Tomlin’ Category

A lot of people will tell me I look like my mother – and when I look at photos, yes, I do look like my mom. My brother and sister look more like my mother, the other brother and I are spitting image Hirsch’s. In my family, we’ve always split it up that way – Wendy and Paddy, Tomlin; Kirsten and Matt; Hirsch. It’s so interesting to me then that not only did Matt and I get Dad’s nose (thanks for that), we also got his temperament. On the good side, we are solid workers (Wendy and Paddy are too). We stay busy, we will work for free if we love what we are doing, and we don’t “relax” very easily (this is not always a good thing). We are kind, helpful, interested in a lot of different things, handy, curious and independent.

On the other hand, we all grapple with anxiety, too much mulling, insomnia, and a low-hum of anger at injustices done to us, our family, our friends, or any other work-a-day Joe. In talking to my Dad recently, we both again verbally recognized this. It’s like the big, green fire-breathing dragon in the room – “yes, yes, I could handle this much better if it wasn’t for the heat on my head from this here dragon.” It’s great to have my Dad to call – he knows what it feels like. We don’t want to be this way: uptight, worried constantly, our minds running a wild parallel ride to our normal, everyday thoughts. It’s maddening…but livable. Dad said, “Just try not to dwell on it, that is what will eat you up.” And I asked him how? How do I not dwell on losing my job, the job that I loved? The answer, is in the good traits, it seems. Work, stay busy, be kind to people (but not people who are out to hurt others-he was specific about this), and look out for yourself, your family, and your dear friends. Sending up a little prayer once in a while is also good practice.

It’s this kind of truthful, meaty nugget, oddly enough, that I look for everyday in the obituaries. Genealogists love obituaries, but if they’re all like me, are so very disappointed in the simple announcement type. To me, an obit is a great place to send messages out to the future – here is how your great-grandmother died, here is why, and here is what she lived for, who she loved, who she called a friend and where she lived. Clues. Obits are for clues. And really good obits contain them in dignified, classy, subtle ways. These obits do not need to be lengthy, just truthful. There is no need to hide in an obit – it’s over, it’s done, it happened.

I’m pretty sure that if the truth was told, there would have been an obituary or two in our family line that mentioned the brave battle an ancestor or two had with anxiety, and maybe even a tip or two on how they coped. I haven’t found it yet, but luckily, I still have my Dad.


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As promised in my last post – I wrote to the bricklayers. Surprisingly, they responded within two days of my letter being mailed! Unfortunately, their records only go back to 1990, but John Phillips, president of Local 1 in Philadelphia personally called to give me the news AND is forwarding my letter to their international office.

Lewis Hirsch, great-grandfather paternal, and George Tomlin, great-grandfather maternal, were both bricklayers, so shout out to Local 1! Philadelphia Freedom!

Proves that sometimes all you really have to do is ask.

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My family and friends have been surprised to see me lately, which is how I know I’ve been spending too much time on the computer. ( I haven’t even started the road trips and long stints in the State Library!)

Talking about what I have been up too lately is a great conversation starter, people love to share their stories. These conversations usually end with my promise to help my friend find Mystery Relative #1, with the caveat that I’ll need to tackle my own family mysteries list first.

Little do they know the length of the list and how inevitably, it will grow and morph into a more complex matrix each time I sit down to do work. Anyone can do this really – anyone with curiosity, patience, some creative thinking skills, perseverance and the ability to organize facts and sources. Basically, you’ve got to love research.

If I ever tell you that I’ve just got a “bit of research” to do before I can help you find Aunt Lulu, refer back to the following, my current list of mysteries (subject to change) 🙂 (more…)

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