Thursday, July 25, 2013

Serendipity Happenings

Tonight the blog views reached 26666, and tomorrow is my birthday on July 26. The past couple of weeks reading the book, Psychic Roots, Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy, by Henry Z. Jones Jr. has helped to ease my mind in accepting the passing on of my mother. This Saturday it will have been a month and yet it still seems so surreal. For this post I would like to share some serendipity moments that occurred during this time.

First of all, as I inched closer to the big "60" she moved closer to the big "80". With this reality the feeling that her time on earth was limited kept coming to me. As we browsed the obituaries for people we knew, she would often point out people she knew. In viewing the birthdates it became apparent that others her age were more frequently found in the listings.

Second, she had provided me with instructions as to where her will would be and other instructions as to how things would be handled when she was gone. Two days after her death we went to her home to retrieve the will from her safe. After going through the contents of the safe twice there was no will to be found. As we closed the safe I looked up on the top shelf of the closet and there sitting on some boxes was a small bundle in a plastic bag. I truly felt directed to inquire about the bundle and found it contained letters from me to my parents written in my twenties. Within these letters was the will!

Third, following reading the will, which was not signed, we made an appointment with her lawyer. As her personal administrator I invited my two brothers and sister to attend this meeting. In a telephone conversation the lawyer insisted that he had returned all signed wills to his clients. After one hour of a two hour meeting, the lawyer went through the file looking for another document and discovered that he did indeed have the original signed will. The sense of relief was incredible.

Fourth, in the process of inventorying her financial records the deed for the house was a primary concern, along with household, utility and insurance records. My mother was meticulous in her filing of records. In the process it took five hours to go through her safe and one desk drawer and another five hours to go through her four drawer file. This was actually quite nostalgic for me. One find was my 1975 tax returns my father filed on my behalf as I was living in Guatemala. There were files on several phases of the building of their home, where she lived for over thirty years, but no deed for the property in the first inventory.

During the second inventory, in the third drawer of the filing cabinet, were deeds for their first home, their vacation home at the beach, but not the current property which is the main item left to the four of us in the will. Finally I turned to a green plastic notebook and discovered the documents from building the home and the two deeds created with the purchase of the property. We were not allowed to retain the actual documents, but we took pictures of every page and discussed that it has been seen by three witnesses.

This week the will was filed with the county and the petition for appointing me her personal representative. While we were denied access to some financial records and no bank account records or personal household records were found, we were able to make a substantial inventory of the records within these files. We also found a household inventory done by our mother, detailing the contents in the home. It is a bit dated, so we added updated information. It feels so good to have accomplished so much and I felt a guiding hand throughout the process.

One of the most disturbing things that has occurred is the destruction of her personal computer and the hard drive. Lost are all of her personal photographs, emails, etc. There are some possible backups of some things. She does have a collection of pictures in the filing cabinet and drawer which we have not fully explored. I keep praying that her journals do not meet such a destructive fate. Reading the entries for the last week of her life was very soothing to me. Once my court appointment is in place we will have more authority to remove the contents of the home and out buildings.

The fifth serendipity moment came when a couple of days ago I picked up two books she gave me the last time I was at her home, just a couple of weeks before she died. This was probably the most psychic feeling of all the events. The first book was, Ice Cold, by Tess Gerritsen. When I opened the book it fell to page 246 and I read the lines, "Sansone looked up at her in puzzlement. " "I made the arrangements. What's the problem, Detective?" "Call them, now. Tell them the body can't be cremated." "Why not?" "It needs to go to the medical examiner's office."

We struggled after our mother's death with requesting an autopsy, but did not pursue it. If I had read this book before her death I might have been more insistent. This is not the type of book I would normally read and I wondered why my mother would give it to me. Her official cause of death is, "Unknown Natural Cause." She was cremated at the insistence of her spouse.

The second book was, Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, by Fannie Flagg. Again, not a book I would normally read. The final lines in the book are: Raymond smiled and said, "Come on in, you've got a lot of people anxious to see you." The big door swung open, and there stood a large group, including her mother and daddy, her sisters Ida and Gerta, and a lot of other relatives she had only seen in family photographs. Ginger Rogers and Thomas Edison stood behind them, waving and smiling at her. It was at that moment that she found him. There, standing right in the middle of the first row, was her husband, Will! He stepped forward wearing a big grin, with his arms wide open, and said, "What took you so long, woman?" She ran to him and knew she was home for good." Our father died twenty-five years ago and I can just imagine such a scene between them.

Over the past few years I shared with my mother much of her family history as it was discovered in my research. We interviewed her and her mother, shared pictures and stories, with her help in editing the information. These are priceless memories for our family. Now I must press forward to discover even more and I look forward to serendipity moments to guide me in the search. One of the last things she gave to me is the tub of postcards, which I have yet to continue organizing. The night before she passed on we discussed the contents and discoveries surrounding the writing of various family members. Serendipity leads me on in what I consider one of the most worthwhile pursuits of our lives. May you enjoy such moments as you pursue the history of your family.

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