When I started my genealogy research, there were several surprises waiting for me. One of them was the fact that my grandmother had three brothers. I knew of one brother, Great-Uncle J., but not of the other two. Further research showed me they both died during World War II.
My grandmother never talked about them and since I had no idea what exactly had happened, I was hesitant to ask about it. But a few weeks back, I was walking her home from the restaurant we’d eaten dinner at and we came upon an antique shop. There were several silver photograph frames in the window and my grandmother pointed to one of them that held an old photo of a group of children. She said that the boy dressed in a sailor suit looked a bit like her brother. I grabbed the opportunity and asked her: “you had three, didn’t you?”
She not only answered affirmatively, but the story of their deaths came forth. Her sister’s M.’s husband (then just boyfriend, if I understood my grandmother correctly) had contracted tuberculosis and infected the family. Her sister M., her sister J. and her three brothers all came down with the disease. And while her sisters and brother J. recovered, the other two succumbed to it, one dying a few years before the other, but both dying of this disease.
Another mystery solved, another story uncovered.