I had almost tripped on a big book titled "Royal Genealogy".
The house that was usually so neat looked like a minor hurricane had gone through it.
- Neighbors, he answered calmly, reading his newspaper in the living room. - Or their genealogy to be exact.
- What? I did not understand one bit, - And where is mother?
- Dealing with it.
- With what?
- Neighbors. Or rather their royal genealogy. And what came after that.
Now my father never was a man of many words but I had learned the technique to get the story out of him. I just wouldn´t leave him alone to read his paper until he had told me what had happened. So finally he sighed, folded his paper and looked at me with a somewhat suffering expression.
- We got new neighbors, as you know.
- Yes - and? How did they mess up the house?
- They didn´t. This is all our doing. It´s more a question of not cleaning it ourselves.
Well, ourselves was not exactly the right term. My father never cleaned anything. He probably didn´t even know where the vacuum cleaner was stored.
- So what has mom been up to?
- I told you. Royal genealogy. Or rather - the lack of it.
- Royal genealogy... what...Dad!
- Ok, ok. So, mother invited the neighbors over. She wanted to show her fine bone china and tell about her book.
I nodded. Nothing was more enjoyable to mother than the admiration of others. She had done a historical research and written a book about it. It was a rather marginal subject, but it was published, nevertheless. And she had been interviewed for newspapers and even on TV. She couldn´t have been happier for all the attention she got. And of course we were happy that her hard work paid off.
I´m not much interested in horoscopes and astrology, but I had to admit there was some truth about Leos. My mother, of course, was one. She wanted to be the center of attention and if no one had praised her or her doings at all for fifteen minutes, she did it herself. Now she was always wishing the best for everyone and was willing to help when help was needed, but this characteristic of hers really pushed my buttons. My father and I were of a different character - we wanted our work speak for itself, and didn´t like to push ourselves into anyone´s attention. But mother dearest was a totally different kind of a person. So where ever we went, she was the loudest person to explain what a wonderful person she was. She was totally oblivious to the amused looks to others.
- Well, the neighbors came over and the Mrs had a very nice brooch. You could tell it had real rubies in it. Your mother immediately asked where had she got it.
Or course, mother loved all glittery things. She would have worn sequins for breakfast if they didn´t tear the fabric of her fine chairs.
- And that is when it started. You see the neighbor had got it from her great aunt or someone of the sort. Nothing special about that in itself - except that the great aunt in question happens to be a real princess. Real European royalty.
- Oh dear... now I understood the royal genealogy part.
- Oh yes... That was too much for your mother. That was something she couldn´t be better at - royal genealogy.
I could imagine her agony. I looked at the Royal Genealogy book I had placed on the coffee table. You could see it was full of yellow sticky notes.
- So the next day it started. She bought books about genealogy research. Books about royal genealogy - I suspect that book holds just about every family tree of the royal houses in Europe.
Then she contacted some distant relative who had done some research. She even bought genealogy software and dedicated herself into finding royalty in our family tree. Half the time she is was in some archive or museum, hunting for royal ancestry. Royal genealogy was her obsession from the moment she saw the brooch.
Now that explained why she had made all those frantic calls to my husband about a computer program she had bought. My mother didn´t understand computers. She might call to ask if she needed to click once or twice with the mouse. She was able to do amazing computer acrobatics no sane person could understand - and jam her laptop completely as a result. And my poor husband, who had the patience of a cow, was the one she always called to when she did not understand her computer´s functions. Which was often.
- Well, what did she find? Any royalty?
My father shook his head.
- Well, for starters she found her own father had been in jail for a few months.
- Really?? now this was getting interesting, - What did he do?
- Well, he had a little shop and it went bust when a big chain built a great store right next to his. In the end his own money and the store bookkeeping were a bit... shall we say - mixed.
- Aha. I bet she was not very happy.
When ever my mother talked of her dear father, it was to tell what a big store he owned before the war. There went that legend.
- You could say that again. Then she turned to study her mother´s side of the family and found a name that sounded noble - her great grandmother. She did some research and found out the name indeed was a royal name - in the 17th Century. Unfortunately it turned out the family had died out and the name was in rather common use in that country. Also she found out the great grandmother had moved into our country from who knows where - and had a wooden leg. And smoked a pipe. Oh - and was fined for selling moonshine.
I laughed. Poor mother - she must have expected a lot from this promising line of research. So no royal genealogy there.
- Then she received in the post the research that distant relative had done. This time more luck even if not royal genealogy as such. In the 15th century there was someone who had escaped persecution in another country and escaped here. He built a home, of course. At that same spot is now a big mansion where that famous race driver lives.
He mentioned the name, and I recognized it. I could imagine my mother telling everyone how a famous race driver lived in her family´s mansion (never mind the fact the actual mansion was built by others centuries later). That´s how she would put the info out into the world - and would make it sound it was all our family´s doing that he had a fine home in the first place. I figured it might be wisest to avoid any social gathering in the near future, if my mother was there.
- But that´s not all. She found out that the president and she are related.
- Oh no...
- Oh yes. That same persecuted person who lived in the same spot as the famous driver, had children. And the family trees of the president and your mother meet in the first one of those children.
Good grief - now mother was related to the president too. Not royal genealogy but the next best thing, surely.
- Well, any royal genealogy for real? I asked.
- No. She couldn´t find any. So she hired someone to do research for her. Some guy who looked just like a weasel. And cost just as much as a whole fur coatful of them.
- Did he find anything then?
- Believe it or not - yes. Your mother heard of it two weeks ago already. Since then she has been up there and refuses to answer the phone.
- What? Why is she not out there shouting it to the world?
- I suppose the royalty in question was a bit of a disappointment to her...
- Really? Who was it?
- Your mother would have been happy to find any decent royal person in her family tree. Unfortunately this one was certainly royalty in his own time in Romania, but not a very popular person. Not then, not now. Except in Hollywood films. Actually films about him are very popular.
- And the name?
- Well, he lived in the 15h century.
- The same time as the mansion builder for the race driver?
- Yes, and that is the connection too. Weasel decided that was the most likely place to find something. He had connections in the country of the ancestor´s origin and made someone go and search some ancient archives there. What he found out was that it seems the wife of your mother´s ancestor was pregnant when they arrived in this country. What the papers were that this research guy found I am not quite sure. I think they were about some folklore in a certain district in a certain country. And there were some papers saved in an old monastery. They told the story of a sister of the wife of this royal person.
It seems the ancestor´s wife had caused a scandal by having an affair with her sister´s husband - a certain Romanian nobleman - before she got married. You may guess the rest.
- Oh I see - she got pregnant by him and then married our mansion builder?
- Yes. The new husband had a few words with the ex-lover of his wife when he found out and as a result they had to flee for their lives. Knowing who the nobleman was I am not quite sure the ancestor in question was the smartest person in town to start a quarrel with him.
- Well that sure sounds like a Hollywood story. Romania, you said...?
Then it hit me.
- You don´t mean... You said 15th Century Romania? You mean...?
- Ever heard the name Vlad Tepes?
I suppose everyone had. I won´t go into detail of his methods, but he sure had imagination when he got rid of the people he did not like, and was later remembered as one of the greatest murderers in history.
- Poor mother! I said.
Father´s mouth was twitching a bit. It was not often I had seen him laughing, but now he couldn´t help it. Finally my mother had found the very thing she most wanted to find - but would never want to tell about her findings to anyone. The most horrible situation she could ever meet, surely.
- And the weasel was so exited about his historical find he leaked the information. So far your mother has received about ten requests for interviews. The headline for one was "Are they still among us?" if I remember correctly. So what do you think - maybe I should invite the neighbors over for coffee again? I´m sure your mother would love to tell them she is a direct descendant of... Heehee...
He was wiping tears from his cheeks, not able to finish the sentence.
- I´m sure she would have been happier to find a frog with a crown than this particular person, father finally managed to say. He laughed so hard that the cat got disturbed and jumped off the sofa.
- Royal genealogy at its best, I hiccuped, - To be the descendant of Dracula himself!
After that mother was not very interested in the subject of royal genealogy. She made only passing comments on being related to the president.
Still, I couldn´t help myself but bought her a big porcelain frog with a crown on its head for her birthday. Father got a coughing fit when he saw it and mother´s smile was somewhat frozen. She did not call my husband to help her with her computer for two weeks. But then things slowly got back to normal. The subject of royal genealogy was not mentioned anymore. And the last time I saw the frog with the crown was in the attic of my parents´ house when I went to search for old photo albums. It was in the same box as the Halloween decorations and I suspect it was my father who had placed a rubber bat inside the crown.
I´m sure we all know people who so much want to be successful in life they don´t believe their own achievements are enough. So one way to make themselves look more important is that they try to find famous people in their family tree. They may also be "name droppers". If they sat next to a famous person who said "hello", they tell of it like they had a long meaningful conversation. It can be really hilarious to observe such people. And sad, too. But we cannot judge anyone because we don´t know where they are on their spiritual path.
Sure it is fun to have famous people in the family tree, but always remember what ever your ancestors and relatives did or didn´t do - those actions weren´t yours. If the deeds were good, it´s ok to look up to them as role models. If the actions were not so honourable - remember they were not you. You have a valuable life right where you are and can choose to live it as you like. Your success in life is defined by you alone.
And about royal genealogy... Genealogy can be really an absorbing hobby. It teaches you not only of who your ancestors were but what the world was like in the past. A really educating experience at best. Ever had a thought it might be interesting? Search the net - there is plenty of interesting information on genealogy research, genealogy software and other things related to the subject. Who knows - you might find a really interesting hobby. And not only that - you might even find a new circle of friends.