Preserving a Female Ancestor’s Photographs with Vivid-Pix Memory Station

Are precious details about the lives of your female ancestors hidden in old family photographs?  Most of us have bins or boxes of treasured memories just waiting to be uncovered and shared. 

Photo of Sr. Mary Camilla Alzo
Photo of my aunt, Sister Mary Camilla Alzo 

As a long-time genealogist, I have been researching the maternal lines in my family tree for more than 30 years. I wrote my book, Three Slovak Women as a tribute to my maternal grandmother and mother. Along the way I accumulated quite the collection of photographs, documents, and memorabilia. Since 2019, I have been on a mission to sort, scan, and share digital copies of the prints with my relatives.

Since March is Women’s History Month, I have decided to focus on the pictures that depict some of my female ancestors. But, where to begin?

With hundreds of photographs to process, I realized what a monumental task I had ahead of me. I needed a system to make things easier. I decided to follow a four-step process:

1. Sort – Organize photographs by family and then by date or event when possible.

2. Scan – Digitize the photographs using a scanner and correct any problems or imperfections using software (see below for details).

3. Store – Initially save the digital images to my computer (then move to an external hard drive with backup to cloud storage). 

4. Share – Share digital copies of the images with my cousins and other interested relatives.

I won’t bore you with the details of the sorting process, but I usually set aside an hour or two each week to go through the boxes and bins, sort the photos by family and then year/event where possible, and make sure they are put into archival safe storage boxes. The bigger decision for me was how to approach the scanning and storing. While I have a very nice Epson flatbed scanner to do the job, lifting the lid up and down is a bit cumbersome. And using my smartphone did not seem like the best option either. 

Enter the Vivid-Pix Memory Station

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out the Memory Station [affiliate link]. This is a combination of a Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 + Vivid-Pix RESTORE software. In the bundle, Vivid-Pix includes FileShadow cloud archive if desired, providing storage for 1,000 images for free and additional fee for more storage).

The ScanSnap was easy to set up (I use it with a Windows laptop but it works with Mac too). I created a folder called ScanSnap Scans on my computer. I followed the instructions outlined on the Vivid-Pix website to get the best resolution and other specifications for saving the scans as high-quality JPEG image files. The ScanSnap allows for continuous scanning and for image correction if so desired. Each scan takes just a few seconds and can be done with either a simple press of the “Scan” button on the unit, or by clicking on the SCAN button in the ScanSnap software. Before I began the scanning process, I downloaded and installed the Vivid-Pix RESTORE software [affiliate link] – just $49.99 for a one-time fee and the ability to install on 2 computers (Mac and/or Windows). RESTORE is on sale this month, just $39.99 during the month of March, 2022 and they also offer a trial to fix 10 images for free. 


I tried out the Memory Station on a treasured scrapbook of photographs that belonged to my father’s sister, Anna, a Roman Catholic nun (she changed her name to Sr. Mary Camilla after taking her vows) who lived in Victoria, Texas most of her life. I called her “Auntie.”

I previously wrote about this scrapbook in a March 8, 2010 blog postThe album pages are falling apart and many of the photographs are faded, so I knew this was the perfect scanning project.  With the ScanSnap I could scan multiple photos, benefiting from the overhead scanner on these delicate items, and the ScanSnap separates them out so I can name them. 

Once scanned, the photos can be imported into Vivid-Pix RESTORE to restore the images with 1-click. There is also an option to fine-tune with easy controls. Below is a sample scanned photo of my Auntie and her two sisters (Betty and Helen) taken on Easter Sunday in 1941 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. 

Photograph scanned with MemoryScan (not cropped)


The Vivid-Pix software adjusted color, contrast, lightness and sharpened the original photograph. As people have different perspective on “keeping age” (fade), less fade (or even back to the original black and white photo), below is the original and the 2 variations. [Note: I left the original photo on its black album backing but can crop the images as desired.]

My goal for this March is to scan the entire photo album and then create a digital version that I can share with others. I will likely share some of the results here on the blog as I work through the process.

Want to know more about the Memory Station?  Click here for more information.

Copyright 2022, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved.


[Thank you for supporting The Accidental Genealogist by purchasing any products mentioned above, which are a part of the income stream for my writing/genealogy business].



http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Fearless Females Blogging Prompts Series Back for 2022

 In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the “fearless females” in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I’m happy to say that this series is still going strong and is back for a 12th year.

Fearless Females Badge courtesy of Denise Levenick with edits by Lisa A. Alzo


So, to mark National Women’s History Month (beginning Tuesday, March 1), I’m listing the 31 prompts below. 

Also, you can download the free badge above to use on your blog to indicate your participation. [A special thanks to my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, who created the original version of this badge especially for me for the 2016 edition of Fearless Females].

The theme for National Women’s History Month 2022 is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” According to the The National Women’s History Alliance, this theme is “both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.” So, it is a perfect time to start writing about your female ancestors.   

Watch this blog for other ideas, prompts, and tips to learn about your female ancestors, as well as special coupons for discounts on books, courses, or other products related to researching your female lines.

###

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month


You can choose to do some of the prompts, or all of them–there’s no pressure–it’s meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told! 

[Group of young women reading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c00288]

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link to it.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Want Even More Prompts and Tips?

If you would like additional writing prompts and tips for researching and writing about your female ancestors, pick up a copy of my eBook Fearless Females: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History. Click here to order a copy and get 25% off the $3.99 purchase price with coupon code fearless2022 (coupon good through 31 March 2022 11:59 p.m. Eastern time).


Also during the month of March you can save 30% off the Finding Your Female Ancestors course on my online education website, Research Write Connect (regularly priced at $99;  now $69.30 with discount). Click here to register and use coupon code FEARLESS2022 to claim your discount through 31 March 2022. The course is self-paced with no start or end date so you can purchase at the discounted price and start the course whenever you choose.

Copyright, 2022, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved
http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Farewell 2021: My Year in Review

Just another New Year’s Eve, or so the song goes. Time to bid farewell to 2021!


To be honest, the past year was a blur for me. I kept busy with various writing and editing projects, webinars, and virtual conferences. I also finished NaNoWriMo. I did not prepare a full tally of number of presentations, articles, etc., but I prefer to focus on quality, not quantity, and I can honestly say my work this year was both interesting and fulfilling. 

Like so many others, I experienced loss. Two beloved relatives died as a result of COVID-19.  Both lovely women, gone way too soon!  On a positive note, I did get to spend some quality in-person time with family members and friends in July and it was a nice respite from visiting on Zoom! 

Last year, I chose the word “Resilient” as my word for the year. I outlined this in my “Saying Farewell to 2020: My Year in Review” blog post.” I wrote in part:

“So, I have decided that RESILIENT/RESILIENCE will be my word for 2021. I will be honest in saying I have no idea what 2021 will bring. However, as I prepare for the new year, I do have hope and faith and I look forward to new possibilities!”

As it turns out, resilience was a perfect word for me for 2021. Choosing a word for 2022 was more difficult. 

Hello 2022!

After much deliberation, I have selected RESET as my word for 2022. 

The definition of “reset” according to Dictionary.com is:

“verb (used with object), re·set, re·set·ting.

to set again:

to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way”

I chose this word after coming across a blog post from 2018, “12 Simple Ways to Hit the Reset Button on Life.”  This article has a number of excellent suggestions I hope to implement in the coming year.

I will be honest in saying I have no idea what 2022 will bring. However, as I prepare for the new year, I am leaving all the baggage of 2021 in the rear view mirror. Onward!

Changes are planned for this blog, my LisaAlzo and ResearchWriteConnect websites, and my work as a creative. I don’t know what the road ahead will bring, but I continue to have hope and faith and I look forward to whatever possibilities come my way.

I would like to extend a special thank you to my readers for your continued support in 2021. 

I wish you health, happiness, and better days in 2022!

Copyright 2021, Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights Reserved

http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Education for You in 2022 – Save 50% Now on Genealogy & Writing Courses

If  improving your genealogy and/or writing skills is on your list of educational goals for the coming year, then check out the Black Friday Sale at Research Write Connect!

Whether you are a beginner who wants to explore family history, understand DNA testing and specific record sets, or an experienced researcher hoping to write your family history, or memoir, then take advantage of our Black Friday Sale and save 50% on all classes and 1:1 Coaching services at Research, Write, Connect through Tuesday, 30 November 2021!  (Note: Offer is not valid on past purchases).

All courses are self-paced with no set start or end dates so you can begin at a date and time that suits your schedule! These are the lowest prices of the year on our courses/coaching so you don’t want to miss out on this deal!

Use promo code THANKS50 at checkout to claim your 50% savings!

Offer good until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on 30 November 2021.

Learn more about these courses by clicking the links below.

Genealogy Courses

  • The ABCs of DNA (with Regina Negrycz), regularly priced at $87.00 USD, now just $43.50 USD – click HERE to purchase!

Writing  Courses

Coaching Services
 
Save 50% on purchase of a one-hour writing coaching package with professional writer and instructor, Lisa A. Alzo, regularly priced at $120 USD per hour, now just $60.00 USD – Click HERE to purchase! 
 
View the Research, Write, Connect Store for more information.
 
Offer expires 30 November 2021
 
Copyright 2021, Lisa A. Alzo
Research, Write, Connect
All Rights Reserved

 

http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Fall Virtual Appearances by The Accidental Genealogist

Fall is my favorite time of year and it looks like it will be one of the busiest in terms of online seminars and webinars.  Here is a quick list of my upcoming virtual appearances.

September

18th – Jacksonville Genealogical Society (Webinar) “No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors – 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. [WEBINAR COMPLETED]

21st – Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society (Webinar) “Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors – 6:30 – 8:30 pm Pacific Time. Click here for more information.

25th – Host for webinar “Slovak Soul: The spiritual journey of the small nation with the big heart” (Webinar) presented by Renata Calfa – 11:00 a.m. Eastern time ($9.95 registration fee). Note: I will be participating behind the scenes as the host. For more information go to Alzo Creative. 

October

2 – Anchorage Genealogical Society Fall Seminar 2021. I will be the featured speaker giving four presentations: “10 Ways to Jump Start Your Eastern European Research”; “Immigrant Cluster Communities: Past, Present, and Future”; “Make Those Skeletons Dance”; “Show Don’t Tell: Creative Non-Fiction Writing for Genealogists” – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. AKDTClick here for registration details.

11- 16 – The Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International 2021 Virtual Conference. I will be presenting three sessions “Researching European Archives from Your Easy Chair”; “Jumping over Hurdles in Eastern European Research”; and “Creating a Family History Legacy Project: Your Blueprint for Success” and co-presenting one session “Slovak Strong: Tales of Everyday Life during War, Illnesses, and Political/Social Change” (with Renata Calfa). Click here for registration details. 

19 – Wisconsin State Genealogical Society (Webinar) “No More Excuses: Ten Tips to Finally Write that Family History” 7:00 p.m. Central (8:00 p.m. Eastern). Click here for more information. 

23  Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast 2021 Polish Genealogy Conference. I will be presenting one session on “Silent Voices: Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors” Click here for registration details.

30 – Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast 2021 Polish Genealogy Conference. I will be presenting one session “Cause of Death: Dissecting Coroner’s Records for Genealogical Research” – 9:45 a.m. Eastern time. Click here for registration details.

November

16 – National Institute for Genealogical Studies Eastern European Research Virtual Meeting (chat) 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Click here for details.

Hope to “see” you at one or more of these events!



Copyright 2021, Lisa A. Alzo, All rights reserved


http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Announcing Special Webinar: Saturday, 25 September 2021: “Slovak Soul: The spiritual journey of the small nation with the big heart”

Registration is now open for a special webinar “Slovak Soul: The spiritual journey of the small nation with the big heart” which will be presented by Renata Calfa on Saturday, 25 September 2021, 11:00 a.m. EDT/ 10:00 a.m. CDT / 8:00 a.m. PDT.

Webinar Details

Presentation Title: “Slovak Soul: The spiritual journey of the small nation with the big heart” 

Hosted by Lisa Alzo and presented by Renata Calfa

Date: Saturday, 25 September 2021

Time: 11:00 a.m. EDT/ 10:00 a.m. CDT / 8:00 a.m. PDT.

Due to webinar length, the presentation is pre-recorded. Q&A will be live.

Price: $9.95 USD

Webinar description

One can speak fluent Slovak, sing folk songs, cook perfect Slovak dinner, yet how well do we know the nation that created such traditions? This webinar, presented by Renata Calfa, will explore: 

  • Faith: everyday motivation of our ancestors
  • ‘Soul language’ of our ancestors
  • Creativity and courage of Slovaks from a different angle
  • And much more…
  • Also, we are proud to introduce Project KORENE, a stage co-production of Iconito and FS Zemplin.

All paid registrants will receive access to a replay for 30 days following the live event. 

You will have up until 1 hour before the webinar to register for the event.

No registrations will be processed after that time. 



Space is limited!  Click here to save your spot now! 




Copyright 2021, Lisa Alzo, All Rights Reserved

http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Celebrating 15 Years of Blogging as The Accidental Genealogist

Today The Accidental Genealogist turns 15!



Fifteen years is a fairly long time to spend on an activity and I have enjoyed using this platform to share my experiences as a genealogist and writer. 

When I shared my first post “Welcome to My Blog” on June 28, 2006, I really did not know what to expect. I wondered if anyone would read what I shared and certainly did not anticipate I would still be blogging all these years later.

My second blog post (2 July 2006) detailed why I decided to name my blog “The Accidental Genealogist.” I wrote:
“Here I’ll share my thoughts, experiences, profiles on some of my favorite ancestors, and other useful information for genealogists who like to write, as well as tips on writing and publishing for writers who happen to be genealogists.” 
I like to think I have achieved my goals of sharing information and inspiration for genealogists and writers. 

Confessions of a Geneablogger

In 2014, I wrote an article entitled “Confessions of a Geneablogger” for Internet Genealogy Magazine (it appeared in the December/January 2015 issue).

In the article, I listed five reasons to blog. Here is a quick summary of that article [used with permission].

Five Reasons to Blog:

Below are five reasons why I think creating and maintaining a blog can be a very positive experience.
1. Giving Ancestors a Voice. One of the many reasons I started my blog in the first place is because it is a forum where I can share stories about my family and document my genealogy research. I don’t have famous pedigree. Most of my ancestors were peasant farmers from Eastern Europe, and not likely to have made the news unless they did something wrong or broke the law. I can use my blog as a platform to write about those ancestors who might otherwise remain in obscurity.

2. Connecting with Cousins. In the genealogy community, blogs are affectionately known as “cousin bait”. Without my blog, I likely would not have made contact with family members I had previously not known. Several cousins have found me because of my online presence, so this is definitely a good thing. I have since met many of these newly found relatives in person.


3. Inspiring and Educating Others. As a writer, instructor, and lecturer, with whom I can share my knowledge about Slovak genealogy, researching female and immigrant ancestors, and writing. I am always grateful for the positive comments and for those who contact me to say they learned something new or were inspired by one of my blog posts.

4. Engaging with Other Genealogists. Many of my fellow bloggers have become some of my closest friends. …We help, encourage, and inspire each other and collaborate on projects or research problems. This is one of the biggest benefits to being a genealogy blogger.

5. Marketing. As a genealogy professional, I feel the need to market my skills and abilities so that businesses, groups, and organizations will hire me to write articles, give presentations, and teach courses. Having a blog is a good way to freely advertise my services and reach a wide audience, although I try to strike a balance, so people don’t stop reading.

I still believe in these five reasons to blog, and look forward to how this blog will evolve as I continue my journey as a genealogist, educator, and writer.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog over the years, contacted me via email, or approached me at a conference or speaking engagement to tell me how much they have enjoyed reading my posts.  I appreciate your encouragement and support.
[While I have turned off the comments function of this blog for now, readers are welcome to contact me through the contact form at the top of this page.] 


Copyright, 2021, Lisa A. Alzo


All Rights Reserved
http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Female Ancestor Profile: Remembering Emilia

[This post was written by my cousin, Renata C. in loving memory of her mum, Emilia who recently passed away.]

 

Wedding Dance Photo
[Renata C. and Emilia ]

 

My Dear Mum Emilia, whom everyone called Milka,

WRITTEN BY RENATA

She was a bubbly, funny, strong, kind, an amazing cook, a fantastic hostess, a great singer, with endless compassion for everyone. Gosh, I miss you Mum…

My mum’s life wasn’t an easy one. Her father abandoned the family when she was just three years old. Grandma never remarried, and had to look after two girls all alone. Moving into a town, having only few acquaintances here and there, sisters relied on each other. However, Mum’s older sister’s domineering tendencies meant compassion towards Mum was rare.  

When Mum married Dad, her mother-in-law didn’t hesitate to show her disapproval. It didn’t stop my Mum looking after both of Dad’s parents. (Grandma later developed Alzheimer’s which was undiagnosed for years). Mum had worked extremely hard, taking care of a household with four children and elderly in-laws. Moreover, the livestock needed tending to and fields needed constant workaround, however it was predominantly my father’s hobby. The doors were open to any neighbour and family. The cars just pulled in; the gates were rarely shut… Often unannounced, not using a main door doorbell, people just walked round straight to the kitchen door, knocked and sneaked their head in. To have a cup of coffee or offer of the food was a given. Mum had welcomed all. Friends, cousins, their friends, colleagues, our classmates, teachers, priests, brother’s army mates (the service was compulsory), everybody was welcome.  Our house was always full of people, some staying overnight. Almost every Sunday my Dad’s large family would gather at our place. Mum would prepare so much food, it would feed an army. Weddings, funerals, Christenings, for any occasion Mum would bake a huge cake and variety of trays of small ones. She would spend days, sometimes away from home, preparing food for friends’ and families’ celebrations. The number of dishes she handwashed in her lifetime! All that while being a working mother.

Mum and Dad were together for 41 years. As in every marriage, they had their ups and downs, but with Mum being of warm-hearted nature, ‘downs’ never lasted long. A great challenge arrives… Dad got diagnosed with cancer. Mum is devastated, she cries, but doesn’t lose hope. She prays and compassionately looks after Dad after many operations and treatments. Cancers goes away, but then pacemaker follows. Dad tires easily, eats less, but operation went well, so there is hope. Mum keeps looking after him. 

Myself, after the collapse of communism in 1989 and having completed my studies, I had travelled to the UK. My newly acquired knowledge of English enabled me to communicate and find long lost family ties in the USA. 

I connected with the second-generation cousins on Dad’s side. Absolutely brilliant! Visit is planned, Mum started to prepare the menu. “Just tell me how many and when.” Research and talking to older family members bring family history to light. It transpired that the family homestead was lived at by our family for over 150 years, every generation working hard to preserve it for the next. After all, a piece of land means survival. The whole family legacy is on this homestead. Generations of family members who were born here, lived here, played, worked, laughed, cried, chatted here, walked on the same ground. It is precious. When Lisa, our first cousin from the USA arrives for the first time, she gets on her knees and kisses the ground. 

Homestead legacy continues; more visits and more cousins follow. Mum welcomes everybody with open arms. After all, this ground is their home, too.  

When Mum was younger, the accident limited her walking ability. Looking after children and vast household, there was somewhat never right time to undergo a complex operation. In her final years, she could only walk with the support of two crutches. Being strong-minded, she refused a wheelchair. Step by step, slowly battling distances between rooms and outdoor places. Inevitably, over the years, she gained weight and developed diabetes as well. Her heart was weak so undertaking both hips and knee operations would be too risky. 

When Dad became seriously ill again, Mum looked after him in his final months with only a little help. She lacked the sleep and was mentally and physically drained. In his final days, my father suffered physically a lot, but passed away in his sleep. Peacefully, with Mum next to him. 

Mum’s grief was deep. Despite my health issues, I decided to take our three years old daughter and relocate for a little while from London.  Husband stayed behind working. For our daughter, Slovakian is a second language which she could hardly speak then. That didn’t stop Mum to enjoy her granddaughter. She would play and draw and sing with her every day, for hours and hours, while I was cleaning and cooking. And grieving together with Mum. 

This solution wasn’t feasible for a long term. Mum didn’t want to sell the house and relocate somewhere else. She built that house with Dad – literally. A note to the reader about the historical background:  the house was built during communism; no private business of any kind was allowed, including no private building companies to do the job. Families would help each other over the weekends, alongside friends of whom some were professional builders. I remember the sand, mountains of bricks, pipes, door frames, building material scattered all over the yard that was shared with the ‘old’ house.

Mum was pregnant with my younger brother then, looking after me and another brother. It was an incredibly hard work. She built this house with her bare hands: for her children to grow up in, for Dad and Herself to grow old in, for grandkids to visit, to spend holidays in this house, for any close or extended family and their children to gather together in, anytime they wanted to. 

Her house, the local church, the village, neighbours, former colleagues and nearby community were her life. 

It was agreed that one of my brothers would sell his flat in town and relocate with his second wife and stepchildren. Mum always treated them as her grandkids, them calling Mum grandma. Another two grandchildren arrived. Despite Mum’s health issues and advanced age, it was given she would help out looking after them. And she did so. Being her grandchildren, spending a lot of time with them, mainly in her room. 

Then Covid struck. 

For various reasons, we haven’t seen each other from 2016. Summer of 2020 was a possibility. Mum can’t wait to see her granddaughter again. Yet, we mutually agree on postponing the visit until it is safe. We love Mum too much to risk her health.

My mum had a great respect for this virus. She understood the power of nature. Watching news, listening, observing that not everybody was taking it as seriously. She was ever so careful, minimizing outings to only necessary doctor’s visits, ever excited to get her first shot of vaccine. Too soon, only few days later, she tested positive. 

We kept praying and hoping…every day. Mum got worse only after few days. There was shortage of medicine and not enough beds in hospitals, anywhere. Some people are helped at day care unit, but sent home afterwards. Thankfully, local hospital manages to convert another ward onto Covid station and Mum gets a full medical care. Waiting is an agony. So many people caring about her.  She fights her battle to the very end. That definitely sounds like my Mum… Staff tell us of her ‘not giving up’ attitude. 

On that sad Friday, my sister is unsettled. She gets through to the nurse, who kindly switches mum’s phone on and put it to Mum’s ear. “Hi Mum, you don’t need to talk, I know it is so difficult for you to breathe. Just save your energy. We all love you Mum. We thank you for everything you have done for us All. Fight this virus if you can. So many people think of you. Everybody is praying for you. We All love you so much. We love you.” Mum is conscious, forces herself to breathe out faint and elaborate ‘alright’ and waves her hand gently. A nurse thinks Mum is signaling she understands. We later wondered if that gesture was her ‘Goodbye’. A nurse tells my sister a priest did his weekly rounds of confessions in the morning and that he attended to mum, too.  Two hours after my sister’s call, Mum passed away. 

Due to Covid restrictions nobody is allowed to visit. The staff is ever so kind and caring. Yet none of her children can hug Mum during her battle. None of us can gently stroke her face, to physically comfort her, talk to her… She was motherly to so many, compassionate, she opened her arms to anyone who needed her help or friendly chat. I wonder if anyone was holding her hand when God called her Soul back to Him. 

I don’t care about my grief. I care about our dear Mum’s pain. Lungs and body aching all over, every attempt to breathe so painful. She has no strength to breathe, no strength to talk. Not enough oxygen in her lungs to reply to her daughter: ‘I love you all, too’. It breaks my heart to think about it. I have to force myself not to. Instead, I think of her Soul being guided away by Angels, to the realm of respect, peace and love. She would be right at home there.

She respected all of her family and anyone she knew, even if sometimes it was not reciprocated. She was the glue that held the family together, she kept the traditions alive and put order to things.

Mum did everything out of love – because she loved…

She appreciated everything that life gave her. Family, friends, health, everyday things…she didn’t take people nor stuff for granted. In her view, everything is a gift from God. 

Mum tried to live every day gracefully. She used to say: “Nobody knows, when they go”. 

And she was right. Tomorrow is promised to no-one.

When my time comes to leave this world, when Angels guide my Soul away, I want my Mum to be the first one to greet me. I can’t wait to hug you and hold you again, Mum. I can’t wait to have a chat and laugh with you again. 

Until then, enjoy blissfulness of Heaven and company of your loved ones, who preceded you there. I have my everyday choices to make here.  Guide me Mum, that my choices- small or great, are the right ones; full of respect and love, as yours were. 

Some people are simple irreplaceable. Mum, you are without doubt one of them. 

We ALL miss you and love you very much. 

Dear Mum, 

May God grant you His eternal peace.

May God holds you in His arms forever.

May God let you feel His unconditional love forever.

Amen. 

 

Copyright 2021, All Rights Reserved
http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Back for 2021: The Fearless Females Blogging Prompts Series

In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the “fearless females” in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I’m happy to say that this series is still going strong and is back for another year (the 11th).

Fearless Females 2021
Fearless Females Badge courtesy of Denise Levenick with edits by Lisa A. Alzo


So, to mark National Women’s History Month (beginning Monday, March 1), I’m listing the 31 prompts below. 

Also, you can download the free badge above to use on your blog to indicate your participation. [A special thanks to my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, who created the original version of this badge especially for me for the 2016 edition of Fearless Females].

The theme for National Women’s History Month 2021 is once again “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” According to the The National Women’s History Alliance, “Since many of the women’s suffrage centennial celebrations originally scheduled for 2020 were curtailed, the National Women’s History Alliance is extending the annual theme for 2021.” The theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.” So, once again, it is a perfect time to start writing about your valiant female ancestors.   

Watch this blog for other ideas, prompts, and tips to learn about your female ancestors, as well as special coupons for discounts on books, courses, or other products related to researching your female lines.

###

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month


You can choose to do some of the prompts, or all of them–there’s no pressure–it’s meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told! 

[Group of young women reading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c00288]

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link to it.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Want Even More Prompts and Tips?

If you would like additional writing prompts and tips for researching and writing about your female ancestors, pick up a copy of my eBook Fearless Females: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History. Click here to order a copy and get $2.00 off the purchase price with coupon code fearless2021 (coupon good through 31 March 2021 11:59 p.m. Eastern time).

Copyright, 2021, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml