Explain your biggest regret — as though to a small child.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us CHILDLIKE.
“Dad, was gran the youngest in her family?”
“In those days things were different. People just had a lot of kids, your gran had 11 brothers.
“Is that man my great grandad?”
“He looks old”
“Yes he was, in those days they were having children all the time, until they were too old.”
The wise words of a father-daughter discussion, dad putting me in the picture about my background. So I bored further.
“Did you know her brothers?”
“Oh yes, I spent a holiday with her brother’s family in the country when I was a kid. They had a lot of children as well. They were all farm hands.”
And so the story went as I was a child, learning about my roots. Unfortunately my dad did not indulge so much in his roots, so I had a lot of catching up to do on my computer records, although I did have basic information from dad. One of my grandmother’s brothers liked his drink, the other one liked a good gamble and one was a bus driver. What a wonderful source of information.
So let us visit my mother’s side of the family to see what interesting people formed my basis. Actually I would move to my Aunt Lil, mum’s older sister. She was a quell of information, although somehow she seemed to get the wrong end of the stick.
“Oh yes, your grandfather’s family were quite rich you know.”
My eyes lit up, imaging a future of wealth and fame. Then came the next line.”
“Unfortunately the deeds to the property got burnt in a church fire.”
Disappointment took over my expression.
“But Aunt Lil, where did the money come from?”
“They were wealthy wine merchants.”
“But we English do not have any wine.”
“Yes, I know, the one with most money was French and they all have wine. His name was Ferdinand de lu Cameru.”
Aunt Lil seemed to only know the half, and the rest she heard from her mother, who was no longer alive to confirm this interesting piece of history. Something was wrong somewhere. Although Aunt Lil was not so far away from the truth, her French knowledge was just a little lacking.
If only I had bothered as a child to delve further into this mysterious story of the French line losing a fortune in a church fire. Today this is no problem; we have ancestry sites on the computer, each one doing their best with the genuine records. If this fails the Mormon church seems to have a complete history of the world in their online records.
So here is the truth. Yes there was a French bloke, and the family name was Camroux. One of them was swimming in money. He invested in about everything. No records were burnt in a church fire. His branch was just not our branch. The only connection was my great grandmother who was a Camroux. I delved into her records and traced it all to the mid 17th century in a little village somewhere in France. They had to flee from France being protestant Huguenots and eventually arrived in London, with a detour somewhere in Mannheim Germany.
I forgot to mention the photo of Uncle Sam with grandad. I never did find out who Uncle Sam was. Grandad had a few brothers (also from my research) but there was no Sam amongst them; another regret and an unanswered question. It was mum that told me it was Uncle Sam. I still wonder today who Uncle Sam was, just another family mystery.
Basically Je ne regrette rien, in the words of the Edith Piaf song, but it would have been nice to have a little more authentic information. Oh, if only digital cameras and computers existed one hundred years ago, so I suppose that is my biggest regret, although I have a strange feeling that Aunt Lil, mum and dad would have felt a little lost in the cyber digital world.
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