The only “good” thing that came out of Mom’s death two years ago was that I managed to re-establish a tenuous reconnection with my father after an absence of several decades.

It wasn’t Mom who kept me from making efforts to stay in touch with Dad. Not at all. It’s a long and complicated story, as most family stories are, going back through literally decades of miscommunications and hurts on both sides. But all that is filed under a somewhat irrelevant and ancient history today.

What matters, and matters more than I could ever put into words, is that for some time now, my father has been sending me regular “installments” of his early life, first in Mississippi and later when he came to live in Washington state in the late 1940s.

These are stories I either know nothing about, or have only a vague idea of their content. Stories that would be lost, along with that portion of my family history, if not for my father’s painstaking efforts to document them for me. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Prior to his writings, I knew only that he was one of eight siblings, and if I tried really hard, I thought I might manage to name all my aunts and uncles, but not in correct chronological order. Now I know a little about each of their roles in the family dynamics, in which branch of the service some of them served, and who went on to some form of higher education.

The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. No wonder I was directed to “Call your Uncle Doc” when I had problems in advanced math class—Uncle Doc had gone to college to become a math teacher, but he never taught once he moved to Washington because he hadn’t taken Pacific Northwest History.

Public school’s loss turned out to be Boeing’s gain, and as the years passed, my uncle had no financial regrets—big business has always paid better than teaching.

But I digress….

Today, I invite all of you reading this to begin, if you haven’t already, mining your family histories—dig deep to find your roots—and by doing so, you’ll be enriching your lives, and those who follow, in countless ways.

I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know my father a little better through his writing. And I chose today to write about this because it’s the first time I’ve been aware that it’s my grandmother’s—my father’s mother’s—birthday.

Thanks, Dad. Love you.