Last night’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” had most viewers bawling by the end. Christina Applegate’s father never knew his mother, believing she had died young under brutal circumstances. The truth was much more complicated and poignant. By the end of the episode, a seventy year-old man finally knew where he came from.
Like many genealogical journeys, the answer to the original question exploded into a zillion more questions. This episode, more than most, left me feeling unsettled and desperate to know more:
- Why was Robert told such a dreadful story about how his mother died? Was he really told she was dead 6 years before she actually died?
- Why did Robert believe he was older than he was?
- Why did Lavina’s sister, Delilah, die so young, and did she leave children?
- When did Lavina marry Walton, and was that when Robert stopped living with her?
- What other records can trace the family’s “descent” during the Depression?
- Why did Lavina become an alcoholic? Did it run in the family? Was she that affected by the downturn in her family’s circumstances?
- How did Paul & Lavina’s backgrounds compare? Would they have considered themselves social equals?
- Who is the half-brother mentioned in Lavina’s obit, and does he have descendants who remember family events from the 30s/40s/50s?
- Why was Lavina’s mother buried separately from her husband and daughters?
- Most of all, why was Michael Constant’s name on the cemetery records for the Shaw family?!