It’s true that not only is the last place you look the place that will uncover the lost item or reveal the information, but it’s often really the last possible place to look. It’s also a truism that the shoemaker’s children are often the last to have shoes made.
Last week, finally, I had the last few of the cache of letters I have had lying around translated. The 6 letters that had not been translated were in Yiddish and a combination of Yiddish and German. The first 4 letters in Yiddish, from my great-grandparents in Romania, were mostly letters complaining of ill health, loneliness since most of their children had left for America years earlier, and neglect by those children as evidenced by sufficient money not being sent home to keep the parents comfortable.
The last two letters were the German one and a Yiddish letter. What made these different was that they were written after the death of my great-grandfather. The Yiddish letter, written shortly after his 1926 death, was from my great-grandmother, with some of the same earlier complaints, but now, added to this was concern (and complaints) about waiting for a ticket to join her children in America.
The German letter, a year later, was from Montreal, and identified the writer as one of my great-grandmother’s sisters. A sister I didn’t know she had. In this letter, the sister was adding her voice to the anguish my great-grandmother had expressed and asking why, after so long, was she still in Europe!
These letters answered a question of why it took 2 years after the death of her husband for my great-grandmother to leave Europe for the US. It also answered the question of who the person in Montreal was. Thirty years ago, my grandfather asked me to find out what happened to the writer of that letter, who he identified only as someone who was important to his mother. It turned out that the woman in Montreal died less than a year after her sister arrived in the US – I don’t think they ever saw each other. The sister in Montreal had left Europe 25 years earlier.