How is it that people born between 1900 and 1940, and tied to us in a direct genealogical lineage can be so very new? That is the art and science of genealogy, I suppose. Names and dates, paperwork and photos. Sometimes, question marks are the most specific items we have about someone. For many years, that is who my great-grandfather, John D’Anna was to me. Now, in 2013, I am just beginning to discover who he is. Because of the generosity of the family who grew knowing him, I am able to see him moving in silent films from the 1950s. I am able to hear more historical information; the real stuff about a real person from living, breathing relatives. It is a powerful experience to say the least.
Until 1997, I didn’t know anything else about John D’Anna other than that he was my great-aunt’s first husband, and the father of my grandmother’s favorite first cousin. After that, I discovered that John was also my grandmother’s father, which made Georgette my grandmother’s sister. It was good news for both of them. For Gam, this was brand new information. For Georgette, it was a lifelong secret about which she could finally discuss. For me, it raised many new questions.
John’s face has always been illusive to me. Always at an angle, or in Black & White. He always was looking down, or very old. Now, John’s face is becoming more familiar and younger. He reminds me more of my cousin, Kelly in some ways. I realize, too, that more than any other branch of my family, my skin color is identical to my great-grandfather’s tone.
I try so hard to integrate this information in all its abundance and importance, but I now this is a slow process.