One sure way of getting to who you are is to do some research on your geneology. One sure way to not make yourself crazy in the search is to have someone who loves to put puzzles together do it. Enter the recently retired Roger Price who has always been interested in the family history but now has a little more time to devote to it. So he found an avenue to Ancestry.com, the holder of all we find dear to us and was on a tear. There were joyous sounds of 'wow' and 'no kidding' and 'who knew' but that was just his family of origin. Late Saturday evening he started to look up my mom's family. Not so easy as the spelling was changed, etc. Then he came upon her grandparents (David and Mary Sholdar) and their children in a 1910 Heritage Quest listing. It was as clear as a bell except there was a girl named Mary. This was a great revelation to me as I knew Gertie, Frances, Mabelle (my grandma) and Jules but there was no other Aunt. So I brought out the wonderful tinotype picture and showed him - Gertie, Frances, Mabelle, Jules and Matt. No Aunt Mary.
For the average human this bit of information would have been interesting but not worth a second look. Not so for these intrepid searchers. Long story short the documenters misread the information and I have a Great Uncle Matt who now forever will be called Uncle Mary. I remember Uncle Mary very well. He was tall, probably about 5'9" (tall for us), funny and he traveled. When he showed up at my grandparents it was a joyous occasion. He had a wife who was a bit mad (not angry) but slightly off and a little mean.
All this added together made for larger memories of sitting with (not under) the family tree. None of these experiences do I recall were Jewish experiences. This family in its entirety was not a family that gathered around ritual. I remember being taken to an annual Christmas party by my Aunt Fanny on my grandpa's side and being embarrassed and a little afraid as I knew I was Jewish and shouldn't be partaking in the grab bag (or so I thought). I remember knowing instinctively that I shared a common experience with these people, these cousins and now if pushed must have known that they traveled from Sinai with me albeit by different routes.
Aunt Frances went to New York and then ultimately to New Orleans. She was always fascinated that I grew up still playing with 'dolls'. Aunt Gertie moved to Waco, Texas and lived long enough to teach Matt Price how to dance at 13 months old, my grandma deserves a writing of her own, Jules (the youngest) died first and I keep in touch with that family. As for Uncle Mary he was the mystery solved. These are the people who made up some of my family and who I am.
As we travel down the road to Sinai and our narrative ravines step carefully and don't take lightly the people who came before you. They may not be who they appear to be.
Hoping your tree has some interesting branches.