Recently I saw a blog post asking “Who got you interested in genealogy?” I would answer, Roma. Her husband Carl Siegel, passed in 1964 before my birth so I never knew him. “Family” on my maternal side meant “Grandma.” While we spent lots of time with other relatives, Roma was the matriarch, as evidenced by our struggle to maintain a family structure and even schedule family gatherings in the wake of her death. However, the reason she inspires me is not because of her hierarchical role in the family, rather her approach to it. I attribute her attitude towards family to her entrée into married life that was anything but smooth.
Roma fell for a man more than twice her age who had been widowed and left to raise his three young sons. Her family did not approve and it is believed within the family that her father never spoke to her following her elopement.
By the time I was in the picture, some 40ish years later, Carl had passed, as had the animosity among extended family members. Carl’s three sons had been raised as her sons and there was no difference in the status of members in the family. I simply had three uncles that were only a bit younger than Roma herself. I never heard the word “step” and from all the stories I have been told she loved and treated the boys as she did the three children that would follow.
She was proud of her family and it showed.