Today has been a very good day. A client of mine drove all the way over from the Bay area to treat me to lunch and pick up his research report and documents. (Note to self: this client is a keeper - lunch and he picks up his own report? Win-Win)
Having been adopted by his maternal grandparents at a very young age, he knew nothing about his father except his name and a general idea of where his father's family might have been living at the time.
My client wanted to know about his paternal line and if perhaps he had any relatives that might still be living in the area. As a general rule, I do not undertake projects that want me to find the living (contract work from probate attorneys is the exception to the rule). The background story for this project however was such that I had a hunch any findings would be used for good intentions. Read on and you'll see my hunch was correct.
Try and picture this scene - It is early 1940's and World War II is in full swing. Men were going to war, and their sweethearts and wives didn't know if they were coming back. The men wanted someone to write to while gone and most of all, if they were coming home, they wanted someone waiting there for them. Over half of those couples probably only knew each other for a matter of days and some for only a few hours.
It should come as no surprise to learn that immediately following World War II, the nation's divorce rate was at an all time high. When returning soldiers found things rather different from how they had left them, or were themselves tremendously changed by war.
Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago when my client contacted me and asked for help in finding his father and his family. With the background information he provided I was able to easily find the family. The families in question had come to San Joaquin County in 1907 and had remained firmly planted to this day.
I used one of my very favorite resources - the local newspapers. There I always seem to find the most interesting things about people and their day to day living. In was in the obituaries of both of my clients grandfathers that I found something that changed his life. All these years he had assumed that his father's family did not know about him or if they did, they had no interest. His name had been changed when the adoption was final.
My client knows now he was known to them and they never forgot him. There were many grandchildren for each of the grandfathers but none of them were mentioned save one - my client. His full name is given and he is referred to as beloved grandson.
I gave the copies of the obituaries to him while we were visiting the cemetery where they are buried. He looked up at me through tears and said, "I was missed and I was loved."
Moments like that make me wake up every day and say, "Damn, I love my job!"