The Blue Distance


The thing that I’m looking for.

It’s not really a thing. It’s a person. Me.

I’ve written briefly about my paternal family. I knew the family mythology. I knew what we were told. Every bit of it was wrong or a lie. A while back I took Ancestry.com’s DNA test. I reckon not much is private now and they had the biggest database, so off I went.

I few things were confirmed. Sorta.

One day about a year ago I received an email from a guy why might be related to me. We emailed back and forth for a while. I suppose we both got tired of it. Ancestry.com sent me an email telling me that they found more new data.

I decided to subscribe for six months so I could try to dig into the records. What I found was stunning.

We were told that our grandfather jumped ship and deserted from the Royal Russian Navy after being told to fire on their own people during the first Russian Revolution in 1905. That sounded little too much like The Potemkin Affair, a movie released in 1925.

I discounted it.

I thought that he might have left the country, but those circumstances were a little to close. We were told that he made his way to Hamburg, Germany and sailed on a tramp steamer to Ellis Island where he entered the United States.

Nope.

Somehow he made his way to London where he lived for a little while. He probably got together enough money to buy a ticket on a ship called the Haverford. He left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in 1910. He met my grandmother about the same time. I never knew him. He died in 1948 at the age of 60 or 61.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.

I thought my dad was an only child. He wasn’t. He had a older sister who was born in 1915 called Ruth Shirley Olga Laskowitz. She lived with her family as documented on the 1920 census. She drops off in 1930. She meets a man called James Albert Miller, with whom she has six children — my cousins.

Again, it gets tricky.

My cousins were born in 1939, 1943 and 1949. I’mm not sure when the other three were born. She and Mr. Miller did not get married until 1962. My cousins are all Millers. Riddle me all of that, Batman.

Mr. Miller — my uncle — died in 1974 on Long Island. Ruth Shirley Olga moved to California where she lived in Cypress, just across the Los Angeles County border in Orange County. We lived about five minute into LA County. We were maybe ten minutes apart. She died in 1990. I never knew her, or heard of her until a little while ago.

Of the Miller family all that is left for me are very distant cousins who call my late aunt, great-great grandmother. They never knew her.

I have no idea why everything was so secret. There is no one I can talk to because they are lost to the fog of time. I wish, when I was younger and my parents were alive, that I had questioned them. But, by then our relationship wasn’t great.

I know where my grandfather came from. I have a pretty good idea where my grandmother came from. I’m not concerned about my maternal grandfather and mother. Their history is quite clear as my aunts and cousins have done quite a lot of research.

I had this big plan to travel to Belarus and a region in Poland that used to be called Galicia. I was going to do it after my big work was finished this year. You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. Along came the pandemic.

That’s why I’m sad. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve lost my hope. I feel like I don’t know who I am.

The Picture.

I needed this picture. It’s light. It’s happy. The clouds made me smile when I saw them. We had a huge storm yesterday. A cold and warm front clashed. The booms of thunder made me cringe. By mid-afternoon the storm blew out. When the all seeing dog and I took a walk, the clouds in the picture are what we saw.

I didn’t take very long to make the pictures. I took even less time in post production. Mother Nature did her thing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every hour.

7 Comments

  1. Awww. ❤️ My uncle and cousin did a major family-tree project. I have a copy but haven’t even looked at it! Shame on me! I’ve felt a sense of being lost my whole life, a soul searching for home, unrelated to family history. I’m currently enjoying the process of finding myself. I’m sure you will happen upon more clues, to your genealogy and self-identity. I think a lot of it is creating yourself, too, choosing which pieces of your past to add to the newly-discovered ones in mosaicking yourself. Who are you, Ray? Enjoy the mystery and creativity as it unfolds. 🙂 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure how much further I can go because I don’t even know the correct spelling of my family name. My grandfather spoke almost no English. The immigration folks spelled our name tha best way that they could. I thought I knew who I was but I don’t. I can tell you about myself as I know it, but that mostly revolves around my career which has always been visual. I think that I’m a good person and that I’m kind to others, but was I doing that for some other reason?

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  2. My family are in Canada and Essex. My patents made a huge effort to totally disconnect. I didn’t even know my uncle when he arrived at my Dads funeral. Now mums gone that’s it. Rudderless. I have no family and I really it’s too late to connect. Parents should keep track. Like you I planned to go to Camberwell Art College. Did 2 days then the Covid hit. Not religious but next time I will jeep my plans under wraps. You keep safe too.

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    1. The rest of my family at least know each other. The cousins that I know about don’t really know each other well because our parents weren’t close. In fact, my mom’s brothers and sisters of which there were 13 split. Some were the good Catholics and
      others were the Communist artists.

      The best comment about plans v God came from a young friend of ours. She went through a terrible breakup about a year ago. She said that she was thinking about dating again when the pandemic arrived. She said, “Well played God. Well played.”

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  3. Hi Ray! I hope you are able to still do your planned trip in the future. Stay hopeful! Very interesting family history! My sister gave me a DNA test kit for my 60th birthday. All my life, I thought my ancestors were from England and Italy. I’ve since learned some were from Norway and Iceland. Oh, how I would love to visit Iceland as I’ve seen beautiful photos from there. Waterfalls. Wild horses. Have you ever visited there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no idea when. From my music side, we don’t think music tours will begin until Spring 2022. Oddly, Belarus has not closed their borders to US citizens. Of course, getting a connecting flight in Europe is a no ago. It’s funny what you learn digging though documents. I’ve never been to Iceland. I should have gone many years ago, when you could build that stop into a European trip. Now, everything is very expensive there.

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