Saturday, December 6, 2014


Some people just don't want to be found.

In the years since my mother passed away, I've become obsessed with learning about my roots. As a person whose family tree loses certainty around the early 1900s, it's been very hard to complete a thorough search. Though my curiosity returns frequently, it loses steam just as quickly as it gains traction. Because no matter my enthusiasm for the search, some parts of my family's past are so shrouded in mystery that it's practically impossible to unearth them.

The last time I saw or heard from my maternal grandfather was in 2008. It was at my mother's funeral. I remember him looking very small. The last picture of him in my memory is at the cemetery service. Standing on the green hillside, he seemed unstable, as if any moment he might collapse into the grass. Whether from grief or old age, he didn't possess a strong veneer of grace.

At the time I didn't think that would be the last I'd hear from him. But as the years passed, I came to realize that what was always a quiet and unassuming relationship would soon wither into nothing.

As with so many other acquaintances, my grandfather disappeared from my life. It happened in an instant, but it didn't hit me until much later.

Occasionally, I send out search signals in the hopes that I might find him again. But knowing his absence from my mother's life growing up, and seeing how little he cared to keep in touch with me after her passing, I feel all hope is lost.

The long lost relatives do not start and end with my maternal grandfather. One of the greatest mysteries of my life is that of my paternal grandfather's father. From what I've been told, he was a Polish immigrant and the black sheep of his family. The stories of his past stop there.

With genealogy research, I've concocted conspiracy theories but never found any solid answers.

And through these experiences, it's become quite clear to me how sometimes the people who go missing do so of their own volition.

These men I've spent my life wondering about and searching for disappeared not due to lack of adequate record-keeping. They chose not to be found and therefore became lost.

In the age of social media, I feel it has become easier than ever to not be forgotten. By tweeting and sharing and commenting and posting, I've put myself in a position of being seen. My existence is documented. Being found is now as simple as tagging your location on Twitter or including your phone number on your Facebook profile. Because of this ease, many of us make the conscious effort to ensure that we are found.

I'm thankful for the people I've lost who have let themselves be found. As we pass through our lives, most of our acquaintances will become lost at some point or another. Even our closest relatives may disappear with the passing of time.

While it may be hard to accept mystery, it is necessary sometimes to simply let go of the people who refuse to be discovered. Stop searching for them and instead place that energy into reuniting with those who are eager to be in your life, into the people who want to be found.

They're the ones who deserve to be seen anyway.

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