Things We Don’t Speak Of

Have you ever noticed that past generations didn’t talk about the things we speak so openly about today? Things like¬†illegitimacy, divorce, mental health, substance abuse or even loss of a loved one were all just somehow brushed under the rug and silenced. I have found that even when our ancestors get to their golden years they would still rather take it all to their grave. Even those who are still living and knew of some sort of “family scandal” feel like they don’t want to speak ill of the dead so they won’t talk about it either. What they don’t understand is that as we “family historians” aren’t just digging for dirt, we are actually trying to make sense of the pieces we have and find the ones we don’t. Here’s an example of what I mean:

My paternal grandmother was married two times before she married my grandfather. Her and her first husband lost a child just after birth. This must have been such a terrible loss for her but she never spoke of it. Not even to my dad who was an only child. All she left in her belongings when she died was a baby book with the infants name and date of birth. No story… no feelings… no nothing.

Jerry Carlyle Chenault


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Then at the age of twenty three her second husband was murdered. Shot dead. The only evidence of their relationship was a photo. Luckily the photo had their names on it and said wedding day. The only reason I know he was murdered is I found his death record.

Paul Simpson

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How awful for my grandma that she had such hard things happen in her life, but keeping them secret only caused her pain. Knowing these details about her life has helped me put things into perspective in a way I never could have before. It has also taught me not to keep secrets of my own and to deal with the pains of life by letting others in.

We desperately need each piece to the puzzle so we can discover who our ancestors were. So we can tell their stories for them. What I wouldn’t give to be able to ask my grandparents more about their lives. Want my advice??? If you still have living parents, grandparents or even great grandparents…don’t wait one more day to get your questions answered. Do it now!!!

Happy Hunting!


  • Sue Mills April 12, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Great article Kathy. If we had know these things about her we would have had a better understanding of waht experiences caused her to act the way she did. I wish I had known the real person she was inside.