Waiting to be Discovered

Relationships that exist outside our cognizance sometimes enter our lives unexpected. Discovering these relationships can often be a remarkable experience.

Two women who’ve had a lasting influence on me, it turns out, are related in a way that is particularly meaningful, perhaps especially so because I only discovered this long after profound shared events. Another woman entered this connection only recently, but as I came to understand, this relationship existed long before any of us was born.

The bonds cemented between the O’Donnell’s, Gallaghers, and O’Neals five hundred years ago in Northern Ireland, as such, were an existing relationship of blood and loyalty that perhaps by accident entered my life over the last twenty years. Only in meeting Sheila O’Donnell was I aware of this relationship discovered shortly before we shared a plane flight to a human rights conference hosted by a mutual friend and colleague. With Colleen Gallagher, who I spent a delightful academic year creating stories and poetry together, this discovery enhanced an already meaningful relationship.

But with Sherilyn Wells, my closest associate through five years of traumatic social conflict, the surprise of finding both our mothers are O’Neals was an almost magical experience. The fact that I uncovered all this by telling stories that caught the attention of a colleague who uses genealogy as an introductory exercise in self-awareness for his students, makes the discovery all the more rewarding.

By taking his advice, I found many joys just waiting to be discovered.


~ by Jay Taber on March 3, 2008.

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