|Agnes and Adolph|
Thanks to the remembrances of uncles, aunts, and distant family overseas, we are fortunate to know some of the personal stories and events that breathe life into the bare facts of this couples' existence.
But the best part for me was watching her eyes open wide when I told her that her Grandpa Wally, whom she knows well, was their little boy. Suddenly the fairy tale prince and princess became quite real, and best of all, they became HERS.
In all this, we need to be careful to keep it truthful. I have to admit, there was some disappointment when I discovered that my German ancestral grandfather Nicholas, did not meet his beautiful French bride Dorothea Francine, while fighting in a war in France. Nicholas, in fact, had no military experience - he was a widower with two young boys, and "Dorothea Francine" was actually Franken Dorothea, a poor German woman with a little girl. However, they had their own stories of adventure, determination and struggles with the German government, and building "something" from "nothing." Looking at their lives and challenges in the context of what was happening in their personal lives, their country, and in the world, makes for an interesting story in itself. There is no need to embellish the facts to make their story an interesting one.
Of course, not all family stories are going to appeal to all children, but hopefully the realization that Adolph and Agnes were Alyssa's people, and they have an interesting story, will lead her to wonder about her other ancestors as well - Martin Adams, the Revolutionary War Patriot who was a drummer just like her grandpa; Rebecca Lair, the poor widow with nothing who ended up being a landowner; John Adams, the gold miner in the California Gold Rush; Grandma Lisa, who experienced the Nazi invasion of Norway firsthand, among others. Knowing that these were her people, and their blood flows through her veins will hopefully create a thirst in her for more.