Not the case in my house.
I know the basics. I know that we are Puerto Rican, that my mom's mom had eight kids, my dad's mom had five. I know that they all mostly grew up in Brooklyn. That my grandparents came to the U.S., but my parents were born here. This I've known since about the age of nine or ten.
What I don't know could feed a whale. My parents love to believe that they tell me stories about their childhood. I've heard bits and pieces, but when I talk to my cousins or when my parents now bring up something random that they swore they told me when I was a kid, I am clueless!
I didn't get to meet my maternal grandfather until I was about eleven or twelve if I recall correctly. My mom had issues with him that I am still unclear about today. He died sometime after but my best memory of him is the only memory I have and he didn't even do much. We were at his house and they brought out his keyboard. He was a musician. My mom and aunt sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" while I triggered the keys to play the music (because no one bothered to listen to my pleas of "Please let me learn an instrument" a couple of years before).
I remember walking around his house and looking at his awards that he got in Puerto Rico. It reinforce the idea that I must study to become a music producer one day and I knew that my love for music did come from somewhere.
Recently at my cousin's housewarming, I found out that my grandfather was in a band in P.R. that was kind of a big deal. Of course my mom never told me this. Of course I am like the only one who didn't know. How can you be in a family and not know a thing about them?
This and other occurrences often make me feel like the black sheep of the family, on both sides, not just my mom's. I believe that part of it has been the lack of my parents not taking the time to tell me enough. Another part of it has been their lack of participating in things when I was younger with the family.
This weekend, I went to visit my dad. We were talking when he mentioned his great great great grandfather. He said that he was the first president of Venezuela. As I cocked my head to the side and gave him a confused look, he knew that once again, our lack of communication has done me an injustice (or I hope he thought that).
He got the info about this man from his room. One of his friends traced my grandfather's other last name "Paez" to this man, Jose Antonio Paez, who was the THIRD president of Venezuela, but was the first to govern the country after it gained independence from Gran Columbia.
So I'm supposedly part Venezuelan...okay.
But this has me really curious about the rest of my family tree on both sides. As an only child who is close to only so many people in her family, who knows very little about them as they do her, there comes a point where you have to.
How do I begin? Do I talk to people? Do I do one of those family trees that you can do online? What do I do?
Well, that's a goal for 2011: To discover the Rodriguez/De Los Santos family tree that flows through my veins.