The Stiff Book of Genealogy
Yesterday “The Stiff Book” arrived. No, it’s not about dead people. My husband’s last name is Stiff. His Aunt Mary sent the genealogy information after I started asking questions of his side of the family. What’s shocking to me is that my husband never even knew this material existed.
It was great to watch Todd get absorbed in the Stiff story. Since you don’t know Todd, let me explain that he’s not a big fan of books. In fact, he just recently discovered how much more tolerable Atlanta traffic is if you listen to books on tape while you commute. It’s not that he doesn’t like a good story – he just doesn’t like to sit still to read. For him to pause to read about his family – that’s important stuff; whereas I'll read the back, front, and both sides of cereal boxes.
I have a theory on the lack of knowledge about “The Stiff Book.” Todd’s parents divorced when he was ten or eleven years old and he lived with his mother until he moved out. He saw his father often, but not on a day-to-day basis. To make things more complicated, Todd’s Grandpa Stiff was divorced from his Grandma Stiff. I think that communication gaps from the divorces are to blame here. But who’s blaming anyone? Not me! We’re just happy to have it and find out where such a funny name comes from (Gloucester, England, if you’re curious).
I never would’ve thought that Todd would be interested in his ancestors. In fact, I wouldn’t have expected that of myself. But maybe it’s not so much about personality and preferences as it is about getting older, having children, and being able to look both forward to our children’s lives and backwards at our ancestors at the same time. I guess getting old does have some positive points! (If anyone knows any other ones, please let me know.)
On February 1, Wednesday night at 9 p.m., PBS will air the first of a two-part documentary called, “African American Lives: Discovering Roots, the Promise of Freedom.” You can get more information here. And you can check your local listing here. This documentary will look into the lives of prominent African Americans (Oprah Winfrey is one, of course) and trace back their lineage. On the February 9th program, they’ll also discuss how you can trace your own lineage. Hope you can catch it.
Note: If you think you'll never remember to watch it, you can have PBS send a reminder e-mail to you. If you view your local listings for February 1 and click on African American Lives, you'll see an option to do this.