moved me to post something I've been working on for a month or so now.
The genealogy bug bit hard, recently. I'm fortunate to have known all four of my grandparents, and remember meeting one great-grandparent. (I was small and she was senile -- I can't say "known", really.) But could I name my 16 great-great-grandparents? No. Still can't, but I'm working on it:
My paternal grandfather is Luis Guillermo Diaz y Silva, born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I have not yet found his maternal grandfather, but the others were born in Puerto Rico while it was still a Spanish possession. (I've heard a line about Spanish-speaking Californians that seems apropos here too: "Some of us came over the border, and for some, the border came over us.") I look a lot like Papa, modulo the Y chromosome. In a wheelchair all my life (and most of my father's), he was a sound guy, taping advertisements for local businesses that he would then deliver by driving around the square in a huge station wagon with megaphone-shaped speakers on top.
My paternal grandmother, Flor de Maria Miranda de Diaz, I am told was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and adopted as a little girl. I don't yet know her adoptive parents' names. She was not the extrovert that Papa was. I do remember the neighborhood cats would gather in the driveway for the scraps she saved for them. (This in a town where if you threw a bit of meat to a skinny dog, it would jump aside, expecting a rock.) I also know that in a majority Catholic country, she was a practicing Protestant. The woman had a spine of steel.
My maternal grandfather, Air Force Major (Ret.) John Herbert Tierney, has four grandparents who are all Irish immigrants. His paternal grandmother came from County Tipperary; the others are still enjoying a swirl of conflicting dates but are approximately Civil War era immigrants. Grandpa was born on the Indiana side of State Street, Union City, Indiana (State Street marked the state line between Indiana and Ohio). This family was machinists and railroad men.
My maternal grandmother, Pauline Marie Kohl Tierney, is from German immigrants who arrived in 1872 (her father), 1851 (her maternal grandfather), or sometime before that (sources disagree whether her maternal grandmother was born in Dayton Ohio or in Hesse Darmstadt, but it's clear her parents were born in Hesse Darmstadt in the 1820s.) I spent a lot of time with Grandma, but my favorite story is one I wasn't there for -- she was a piano teacher before she married, and chugged around Miami County, Ohio, in a Model A to get to her pupils.