Down an English Genealogy Lane

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[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal Ambassador Anne Bradshaw visits with her mother after traveling to England to see her.]

In November this year, I took a trip down an English genealogy lane. I flew to England to visit my mother, Eve Tozer, who is nearly 102-years-old. Eve suffered several mini-strokes late October, and was confined to bed after some 37,105 days of mobility. I expected brief conversation and lack of concentration. Imagine my surprise when I brought out my iPad to show Mum a short video made for her 100th birthday, and she began tapping the screen like a pro! I suspect she’d have been a genealogy techie if born in a later era. Although her legs no longer work, Eve’s mind is all there.

Genealogy Journey

What began as a farewell visit soon became a journey into family history.

Some days, my sister Susan came with me to see Eve. Other days, I was on my own. Both situations opened up the past in unique ways. One visit, our combined memories had Mum singing, laughing, and even trying to whistle. She used to whistle tunes in her youth, in a day when it was an un-ladylike thing to do. She still recalls her father telling her an old phrase, “A whistling woman and a crowing hen, are neither fit for God nor men.” It didn’t stop her. She continued to whistle throughout her life.

Another day, Mum suddenly began talking to me about giving birth to triplets, not twins, when my siblings Susan and Malcolm were born. She said the third child died within hours of birth and wasn’t given a name. Susan and I are now investigating that snippet of valuable information. The births took place during World War II in a remote village hospital with no modern medical resources. My mother and the twins nearly died. For whatever reason, my parents never mentioned this extra boy to me or my brother and sister as we grew up. If Eve had died years ago, this new fact would have remained unknown.

As we showed Mum old photographs of ancestors, she recognized each one and named most without hesitation. At one point, she told us all the names of her 12 siblings from memory, in the right order, and fast. Impressive! She is the last remaining member of her family and is excited to join them all when her life on earth ends.

In between visits to my mother, my husband and I explored other local places from our own and our children’s past, such as towns and parks (see below). When we told Mum about these places, the memories multiplied.

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Knutsford

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Old Hollow Tree, Rectory Park, Sutton Coldfield

Yay for my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner!

While at my sister’s house, I had access to a treasure trove of old family photographs, certificates, records, news clippings, and more. Because I had my little Flip-Pal with me, I was able to quickly scan everything, and return to the USA with excellent copies of documents I hadn’t seen before, which are now digitally preserved for future generations. I even scanned larger documents with no problem, using Flip-Pal’s stitch feature.  A few of these are included below.

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Gt. Grandpa William Pattison, Old Brightlingsea Newspaper Clipping

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Grandmother’s Death Certificate

 

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Mum marrying Fred Tozer, 1937

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Mum and me, 1944

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fred Tozer (2nd seated) Mayfair Football Team, 1932

A Bonus

A final bonus occurred the night before we flew home from Manchester airport. After a week of strong family feelings, my husband, who hadn’t seen one of his brothers for 16 years, knocked on his brother’s door in Manchester. We spent a great evening catching up and reminiscing.

There’s something about extended family ties that is hard to ignore. Venturing down genealogy lane gave me back a unity and sense of belonging I’ve missed after living away from England all these years.

Last Goodbye

I shall forever carry a mental picture of the last goodbye wave from my sweet mum. I stood in the open doorway waving back at her and said, “Remember, when you’re in heaven and you want to get my attention, just whistle and I’ll know it’s you.” She smiled and nodded, looking peaceful and wise. We blew kisses and I shut the door. Thank you and God bless you, Eve Tozer, for being my dear mother.

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Eve trying to whistle

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2 Responses to Down an English Genealogy Lane

  1. Caroline Gerneglia December 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    What a wonderful thing to be able to visit with your mother and your extended family.

  2. Malcolm Campbell December 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this charming tale. What a genealogical treasure. Memories forever.