Read part IX
As Kathryn stared out the window her mind wandered. She thought about family trips with her mom and dad, riding for hours, stopping to have a picnic, and finally reaching their destination: usually a cemetery in a small town or a church that kept records of its members. Kathryn’s mom was the genealogist of the family; she taught history and gave lectures to groups on how to trace their family origins. Too bad I never paid that much attention to her lectures when I went with her as a little girl, Kathryn inwardly chided herself. I never thought to ask my mom about Abigail. I always bugged Dad.
While she was waiting for her mother to finish going through the church records in a small town in Delaware, Kathryn sat outside playing on the swings that sat next to the church burial grounds. Her dad came to join her holding out an ice cream cone.
“You’re really great to be so patient with your mom and all her research.”
“She makes up such great stories once she has it all.” Kathryn shrugged, “I really like the diagrams she makes.”
“Yeah, there is something neat in all those branches; tracing your finger from you to people back in time. Still, most 12 year-olds wouldn’t be so easy about all this.” Her dad sat in the swing next to her and began to push with his legs while eating his own ice cream cone.
“Thanks. It’s not all terrible. I get tons of time with you in the car, and with Mom teaching so much lately it’s nice to be with her more.”
They sat in silence eating ice cream and enjoying the light breeze.
“In school this year we read a book about a girl in the middle ages. God, her life was terrible. I know Mom told me how things have changed and all, but . . . ?”
“But what, Kathryn?”
“Well. You know all those stories you told me about your great-whatever Aunt Abigail?”
“I mean, was her life, like, all that bad, too?”
“In comparison to yours, yes.” Her dad sighed, “I can tell that you want to ask something more.”
Kathryn kicked the ground with her toe sending dust into the air. She watched it float on the breeze. “I do.”
“Is it a question for me or for your mom?”
“Da-ad! It’s not that kind of question. Like I’d ask you. Gah!” Kathryn crunched on her cone and then asked, “Why do people in this family always talk about her? I mean, I like her and all. The stories are neat, but why talk about her? She didn’t even do anything famous. She just married a lot. Isn’t, like, that Liz Taylor lady on her seventh husband?”
“I can’t honestly tell you what husband Liz Taylor is on, but not everyone has an ancestor that married five times. Isn’t that enough?”
“But that’s the thing, Dad. She isn’t your ancestor, not directly. Why all the fuss? Why the big deal?”
“I wish your great-grandfather was still here. I bet he would have an answer for you. He knew much more about the family history than I do. He never wrote any of it down that I know of. He just told the stories, and I didn’t remember them perfectly. I’m sure there was something I missed. And, maybe that’s where your big ‘so what’ is.” He looked at Kathryn to see what she was thinking. “Hey, you in there?”
Kathryn looked at her dad, “Yeah. There’s just so much more I’d like to know. What color was her hair? Why didn’t she just stay unmarried? Did she ever feel unlucky? Do you even know how she died?”
“Sorry, sweetie. I don’t any of that, and I don’t know how to tell you to figure it out. That’s something for your mom. Speaking of that lovely lady, here she is. Let’s get her moving to the car so we can spend that week on the beach.”
“Hey, where did you go?”
Kathryn shook her head and turned to Ian. “A different continent and years back in time.”
“Yeah, Mom, Dad, and I took a lot of road trips like this.” Kathryn got a sparkle in her eye. “Are there any good spots for a picnic?”
Ian frowned, “Uh, yeah, but I didn’t bring anything for a picnic.”
“Then let’s find a store. Come on. Where’s your sense of adventure? I said I wanted to make this a vacation.”
“Whatever the lady wants.”