Six weeks ago, while I was visiting my parents, my phone began to buzz during dinner. I assumed it was family and left it till after dinner. I was right, it was family, but not mine. It was John D. Fitzgerald's family. Twenty years after my Finding Fitzgerald project began, a wish that had been sent to me in a dream came to pass. Like all great fulfillments, I wasn't expecting it.
As I opened my phone to check the messages, that I assumed were my family, a new face appeared in my feed. Jonathon P. Fitzgerald, grandson of Thomas N. Fitzgerald, the inspiration for T. D. Fitzgerald. Before I could even surmise who, he was or why he messaged me, he began sharing.
He'd listened to the audio book of Finding Fitzgerald. He and relatives have been on my Great Brain Facebook page for years, everything seemed fine, yet that night after the audio book, he needed more. Boldly heading to Ancestry.com he struck gold. Relatives he had barely heard of magically arrived in his life. His excitement was palpable through my phone.
For the next couple of weeks, we shared skads of photos, handwritten biographies, obituaries, and news clippings. Some I had found years before the internet was the full resource it is today. Others were new to me. As one by one as the photographs, and brief biographies filled my pages, a memory of a once confusing dream morphed back to my consciousness. Wanting to see how far the fulfillment went, I urged Jonathon to keep going.
The Dream -
I stood at the bookcase flipping pages in a book. My eyes, though lingered on the older couple across the way. They had maps or plans stretched out before them on their table. Every once in a while, one of them would look back at me, then turn around to their whispered discussion. As hard as I tried, I couldn't keep my mind or eyes on what I was doing. When I wasn't staring at them, I was scanning the room we were in.
A glorious, cavernous room. With tall dark pillars reaching up to an open roof. Or maybe it was glass, but it appeared more open than glass. The main hall seemed to go on forever. Walls filled with materials of many kinds banked the open floor space. I could feel people behind me, yet I never turned around to glance at them. As my awe of the facility settled, I bent my head to see what I was flipping through. Before my eyes hit the page, they came over, the older couple from across the way. They were simultaneously vague and familiar to me.
In dream state I am often blind to people's mouths. I can see their eyes, hair, face shape, glasses, but mouths escape me. I only hear and feel. Today was no different. They were speaking but I couldn't see or hear. Pretty soon, they piled their materials in front of me, and left. Instantly, our moment closed out.
Seconds later, still in the dream, I was standing next to an expansive lake, it felt as if it went on forever, and tipped over the surface to stretch beyond. While I marveled at its reach, I sensed her. She'd materialized next to me, a few feet away. We were the only ones there. I looked behind me to confirm our status. No one there but us and a huge lodge or building behind us. Then I heard myself speak, "Am I yours? Am I one of you?"
She smiled, I could see it in her eyes, "No, you have yours. We have ours. We just need help finding all of ours." She bent down picked up a pebble and skipped it into the vast lake. We watched the ripples recede. As the last one ebbed, so did she. For a brief second, I was alone by the lake. Then I awoke.
The Nudge -
That morning, as my eyes opened, I hit the ground running. I had kids to get to school. Family visitors to prep for. If I am not mistaken a holiday to set up for. We bounded out the door, and carried out our normal chatter and routine. My mind completely void of the dream just moments before.
An hour later, when everyone had been dropped off, and I was driving home, making a mental plan for the day, she came back. "Will you help us find ours?"
I remember staring at the red traffic light, wondering who she was, suddenly a full replay of the dream ripped through my mind like a movie pre-view on speed setting. I still couldn't place her but a sense hit me. I raced into my house when I got home, opened the front cover of the book I was reading, Mamma's Boarding House, there in the acknowledgements was the answer. Belle.
If John had an ace in the hole, it was his older sister, Belle. However, I hadn't discovered her impact until the dream. She was the one conversing with me. Not him. She had been the keeper of the family notes John D. had taken after Mamma's funeral. She's attended the Academy in Salt Lake. She had the highest educational degree in the family. And she had penned the longest "brief biography" that I used for my work. Under the watershed awareness of her role, I whispered, "Nice to meet you, Belle."
Then I stood and thought. Her "help us find ours" request was impossible. I had exhausted every lead and address I could find. I had a file stacked with unopened returned letters. The few people I found weren't direct relatives, but they knew one or had gotten something from one. Eventually, I told invisible Belle, I'd done my best but since they weren't mine, I couldn't find them either. I let it go. Whoever they were would have to find me.
Fulfillment & The Long Game Plan
Days after the dream and the second conversation with invisible Belle as I drove home, I decided to start a Finding Fitzgerald blog. I wasn't sure where it would lead but maybe "one of ours" would find it.
Since that time, I have created two websites, written one book, built two robust Facebook pages, spoken at multiple events, and spread Fitzgerald as wide and far as I could. Fourteen years later, on a quiet night in February, the dream was fulfilled.
Somewhere in that heavenly lodge or library, or where ever the Fitzgerald's are hanging out, they are having a party. All the "ours" have been found. Well done, Jonathon P. Fitzgerald.