Friday, March 19, 2010

In Living Color

I, along with a large percentage of the genealogy community, have been glued to the television on Friday evenings since the beginning of the NBC series, Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA). Each week a celebrity's search for his/her ancestors is featured. The first week they featured Sarah Jessica Parker, and last week it was Emmitt Smith's turn.  Great episodes, though I have to admit to wanting to go re-watch Emmitt's since I missed part of it. 

But I think that tonight's episode is going to be very hard to beat.  Tonight they featured Lisa Kudrow. I'm not sure what made tonight's episode so personal to me, given that I have no known Jewish ancestors and no known link to the Holocaust. But I found myself riveted to the television like I haven't been in a very long time.  Tonight's episode was more than a search for someone's family history, it was a search for someone's family story

Yes, there were stories in the other episodes, and I imagine there will be stories in the episodes to come.  But I made a connection with Lisa Kudrow tonight as I watched her travels.  One of her comments, while she was in Illya, was to the effect of "This is where she walked, this is what she'd seen when she lived".  I found myself brought back to the time, about five years ago, when I was first going through my family's old photographs, in sepia tone or black and white. By the time I finished sorting the photographs and scanning them into my computer I actually had to remind myself that, while the pictures were in black and white, life has always happened in color. I couldn't fathom what these people and places looked like in color.

Ever since this early genealogical time I have longed for the chance to go back to Pittston and Nanticoke in Luzerne County PA so I can see where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived, worked, walked, and played. In true, living color. Perhaps one day I'll get the chance to make that trip. Dare I even dream to go back to the places where my great-grandparents were born and raised? To learn about their lives in their countries and try to grasp the historical basis for their leaving their homelands? I guess maybe this is why Lisa Kudrow's story touched me so deeply ... it was a true search for the story of the people that made her Lisa.

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