For years you have been my go to, my spell check, my crystal ball and my ace-in-the-hole countless times when I've just really needed to know something. I've been a real jerk for not thanking you until now. I've taken you for granted and yet you still continue to give me the goods when I ask for them. It's about time I give you some well deserved kudos; especially after what you did for me last week, because that has put you in a new realm of awesome in my books.
On Friday, I merely wanted to 'google' the spelling of my cousin's very Gaelic last name. I couldn't find him on Facebook, so I thought I must have spelled his name wrong. I didn't share with you that aside from a brief meeting with this cousin back in 1994, I haven't seen any of my dad's side of the family since my dad died in 1977 even though we lived in the same Province. I didn't mention that my dad was only 33 when he died and I was fatherless at 6. I also didn't tell you that I've felt a huge amount of shame in my recent foster parenting class because I don't know simple details about that side of my family; things as simple as my grandmother's maiden name. I didn't tell you that I've felt a huge amount of loss for most of my life, feeling like half of me was missing. I didn't tell you that I'm of First Nation's decent; something I'm proud of, but yet something I've never been able to celebrate because I've been disconnected from that side of the family and as a result unable learn more about my culture. I didn't share that I've searched online in vain through page after page of online data over the years, hoping to fill in that naked half of my family tree that beyond my dad, held only names of grandparents, aunts and cousins with no other clues, family stories or anecdotes of my roots. I didn't tell you that it makes my heart hurt. I didn't tell you that THAT day, was the 33rd anniversary of my dad's death. I didn't tell you any of that, yet it appears you knew anyway.
You knew. All I did was ask you if I spelled my cousin David's last name properly and instead of just confirming I was right or politely spewing out alternate spellings, you instead immediately shared with me my uncle's obituary (David's dad). But you didn't stop there. That obituary was on a Manitoulin Island genealogy page that I didn't know existed. From there I found my step grandfather's obituary - it was there that I saw my grandmother's maiden name. Once I found that... in about 3 searches, you unlocked my past for me. All the way back to 1825. This past Friday, within moments of a simple spell check, I was looking at birthdates and full names of ALL of my great aunts, uncles and cousins! I was looking at a layout of MY family tree and it was far beyond my wildest dreams. Aside from learning of some more recent deaths, it was a beautiful and moving experience.
Not only did you help me find a wealth of lineage information I thought I'd never know, you also showed me I have every right to be proud of the bloodline coursing through my veins. You then went the extra mile and gave me a picture of my great, great, great grandfather. I was not expecting that. Or the tears.
And just when I thought I couldn't be more impressed, you led me to a beautiful documentary about Manitoulin Island which mentions George Abotossaway extensively (starting at chapter 11). Turns out you knew all along what an incredible man George was. You knew he was a pioneer and an important forefather of Little Current, where my dad is from. You knew the important role he played in native and Canadian history and you gave it all to me and it is a gift. I'm sad this incredible cultural legacy wasn't passed to me from my family, but I am no less blessed for the knowledge.
Learning all of this exactly one week into a 99 day project to "find myself" is as inspiring as it is overwhelming. Until now, I didn't realize that actually knowing where you came from could be such a powerful catalyst into knowing where you're going. I'm thoroughly blown away and impossibly grateful.
I'd tell you that what happened Friday was deeply important to me and fills me with immense pride and gives me the connection that I've been searching for most of my life. I'd tell you that you've given me the basics to reconnect with my family and my culture so I can pass it along to my daughter, but I'm sure you already know.
Thank you Google. Thank you for helping me in ways I never thought possible. I wish I could hug you.