|courtesy: ColourBox Stock Photo|
Oh how I love going to genealogy conferences! Just three years ago, I emailed a user on FamilySearch seeking information on a special ancestor:
"Dear Kay ----,
Greetings from a distant cousin if you are descended from Ishmael Phillips. My name is Cassandra, and I obtained your email through Familysearch. Brother Phillips is my 4th great grandfather, and an ancestor I have taken deeper interest in doing background research for. Do you by chance have information on him concerning his early years in England right after he joined the Church? I have scoured the Internet, microfilms, and books for the records I now have, but there is very little which covers his years as a new convert. Thank you for any help you can provide in doing research on Brother Phillips,
I received the following reply:
"Cassandra, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you...[she proceeds to talk about her family in great detail, not uncommon to genealogists :) ]...When I get feeling better and can take time to look in my records, I would be happy to sent you some information about Ishmael. You are a generation younger than I...I'll be in touch when I can get over this flu bug...Thank you for getting in touch with me. It's always fun to find a new cousin!
We send more messages back in forth, sharing what knowledge we share on our progenitor, the humble and lovable Ishmael Phillips. We decide to meet at RootsTech in February (2015). Since that time, we have met up at three other genealogy conferences, always referring to Ishmael Phillips and our shared love for our grandfather.
When Kay first arrived at RootsTech, she was registered for the entire weekend. In a conference hall packed with 20,000 people, she sat down to take a rest. Being the friendly person she is, she struck up a conversation with a kindly mother sitting nearby. They were talking about their ties to Utah when they discovered something they had in common: they had both been in contact with me! She was the mother of a friend from work, and her son and I worked for the same company at the time! Kay took this as a sign that she was in the right place, and our shared interest in Ishmael was no coincidence. She could trust me with handing over any research work she had done for the past 30 years.
We met later in her hotel room and she shared this story with me. I was agape...what a miracle! For the next 3 hours, she shared stories, documents, and sentiments on our grandfather, and I came to see and appreciate him in a new light. Our shared love for Ishmael turned our own hearts to each other as cousins.
If I can say one quality I truly admire in Kay, it is her devotion to her family. She talks often about her children, her in-laws, and her grandchildren, almost like they are my own family instead of distant cousins. She is another great aunt to me rather than a 3rd cousin. She stays valiantly by her ailing husband's side as his health problems continue to worsen each year. It has gotten to the point where she may not be able to return next year if his condition become worse.
Late in the evening this week, I was reflecting on my friendship with Kay. I thought over all the times she bought lunch or dinner for us. I reflected on her selfless act of giving me ALL of her research findings on our grandfather. What have I given her? Does she have a piece of me to remember me by? A thought entered my head, and I stayed awake until 5:00 a.m. working on the project.
After two hours of sleep, I readied for day 3 of the genealogy conference, grabbing my wares and my gift for Kay I made my way to classes. I presented Kay with a crocheted doll of Ishmael Phillips. The love and affection in her eyes was indescribable, it chokes me with emotion now just sharing the experience.
I love you Kay, I keep you in my prayers. May we meet again soon! I thank God you are a part of my life and share a love for Ishmael only his descendents can appreciate.