And then it hits you like a ton of bricks.
Your ancestor, your loved one, your distant relation died from tuberculosis. And you begin to wonder what their life was like with tuberculosis or consumption as it was once called.
I've seen it as a cause of death several times in my family tree, but my recent one that I encountered was my Big Paw Paw's 1st wife, Emma Rosin. She passed away after she divorced Big Paw Paw and after she had remarried again. She passed away from pulmonary tuberculosis 11 Mar 1931 at the age of 38 years in the Grace Lutheran Sanitorium in Schertz, Texas. I was saddened by this even though she wasn't my grandmother [my grandmother was wife number 4], but in researching her, I became, um, attached to her. To the best of my knowledge, she never had any children, and her death certificate indicates she had been sick with tuberculosis for 3 years. She was one of those family tree orphans who I adopted. [You can read more of her story in my blog posts on Family Stories: Smiling Big and Laughing Hard and in How a Baker Led me to Ducky Hour.]
So what's my point? What does this have to do with genealogy and technology and researching and sharing your research?
Well, I think it's really important to understand what our ancestors, or whomever we research, were going through in their lives. So many in the past died from tuberculosis or had to receive treatment for long periods of time in sanitoriums. What was that like? What were their lives like as they battled their disease?
Wonder no more. I stumbled upon a heart-warming and, at times, heart-breaking, book written by a girl who practically grew up in a sanitorium battling tuberculosis in Ottawa. You see, she kept this diary and then with the help of her sister, Anne Raina, it was published posthumously. Her name was Clara Raina Flannigan and her story is called, Clara's Rib: A True Story of a Young Girl Growing up in a Tuberculosis Hospital.
It touched me deeply as I have a personal reference point for diseases that attack families as tuberculosis attacked Clara's family, and it hit close to home. And did I mention it reads like a novel? I literally could not put this book down once I began. Clara's raw honesty and keen insight grabs you and will not let you go. Ever. After reading it, I wanted more. [And lucky for me her older sister wrote a book about another dark time in their family's life that Clara refers to, but gives you absolutely no details about, which totally left me hanging until I read the back of the book and found there's another book.]
If you've wondered what life was like for your ancestors who were stricken with any disease, but especially with tuberculosis, then I strongly encourage you to read this book. I challenge you to read Clara's story ~ her life ~ through her eyes as she was experiencing it.
Wait. Scratch that. Everyone needs to read this book. It's that powerful. It's that good.
Besides, don't you wanna know why it's titled, Clara's Rib? [You know you do.]
Stop collecting names and dates. Start finding out what your ancestors' lives were like. Start walking in their shoes. I promise you won't ever be the same again if you do.
Now, getting this book is not as easy as you may like, but as with all the best things in life, it's worth the hoops you'll jump through. It's available from the author only. I discovered her and her book from an interview she did for a newspaper, and it showed up in a Google Alert in my email. And, naturally, I had to have the book, but once I started looking for it, I couldn't find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. So I Googled it and found her website. And because I was so moved by her sister's story as revealed in her interview and on her website, I contacted her through her website. By this point I had to have the book.
She confirmed that her website is the only place you can buy her book, but, hey, she signed it for me. And? Then her sister's story rocked my world. And now I'm sharing it with you so it can rock your world. [And then I'm gonna buy her other sister's book. So it can rock my world too.]
It's a roller coaster ride that's well-worth the price of the ride.
Note: I am in no way affiliated with the Raina family. I happily purchased the book from Anne Raina and anxiously checked my mailbox daily for her sister Clara's story. My opinions and review of her book are entirely my own. If you buy this book, I get the satisfaction of knowing that your world is gonna be rocked. Like mine. And that's it.