Saturday, December 8, 2007

A random thank-you for genealogical kindness

In the pile of envelopes that I received in the mail were a couple of items that looked like possible Christmas letters. One was marked on the front: "photo". I placed that one on the top of the stack of mail, looking forward to a new Christmastime photo of some of my friends or family and their children.

Opening the envelope I had an even more pleasant surprise. Inside was a photo of my grandfather's gravestone, kindly sent to me by a volunteer from Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. I had found this group's website several months ago, and happily discovered that one of the volunteers offered to take photos at the cemetery where my grandfather was buried.

Not living near the area, and with no plans to visit in the near future, I had looked up the correct plot number and hoped that this volunteer might have a chance to take a photo of my grandfather's gravestone.

She had kindly done so, and here it was in the mail. But the photo held even more surprises. Unbeknownst to me, my grandfather had been buried beside his first-born son, who had died as a toddler. There was baby Stephen's name along with his birth date and his death date.

My eyes couldn't help but tear up a little as I took a look at the calendar to confirm what I thought was true: the photo had arrived on Baby Stephen's birthday.

A very special thank-you to the volunteer who took the time to find my grandfather's gravestone, photograph it, have the film developed and mail it to a complete stranger. Thank-you also to all of the other volunteers who have performed Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Your kind efforts are what the Christmas spirit is all about.

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