After spending a frustrating evening pouring over illegible handwriting in
badly damaged and out of focus parish registers - and still NOT finding my
relatives, I thought it was time to send an open email (at
www.ofcoursethereisaHeaven.com) to all my "Upstairs" relatives who have
gone to Heaven (99% of them) or the Other Place (1%). The text follows.
(Feel free to insert your own relative's names where appropriate.)

"Dear __________________:

I am your _____________ and living in the early 21st century here
in___________, ______. I am sitting in front of a microfilm projector (I'll
explain what that is in a later email) in a special library run by the LDS
(nice people, but later on them, too) trying to decipher the small and
shaky handwriting of your parish's minister/vicar/curate (choose one). He
must have been either vertically challenged or had palsy - because it's
unreadable! At least I think it's your parish! I'm not even sure of the

Thanks for leaving such a good paper trail! (Sarcasm intended.) According
to family legend, you and your wife ___________ had _____ children, some of
whom lived beyond infancy. Yet not a single one was recorded in the parish
records! I can't even find your marriage certificate. You two WERE
married, right? Didn't you know that there would be legions of people like
fanatically spending their waking hours and small fortunes looking for any
and all traces of your lives? Were you just stubborn, couldn't afford the
fees, or not members of the Established (or any) Church?

You're wondering, "What's all the fuss, we're dead as doornails?" We're
not sure, but I think down here we're infected with the same disease:
Rootsus obsessionus. Of course, WE are going to leave better records for our

Anyway, I'm glad I was able to vent my frustrations upward. If I couldn't
do that, I'd have probably popped the obnoxious researcher next to me who
is right now translating an old parish record in German - and out loud, for
Pete's sake!

I have an idea.... When I'm "dead-on" (pardon the expression) to finding
the correct record, give me some sort of sign. Make the projector bulb
flicker twice. Or, if it must be done in the privacy of my home, I have a
Labrador Retriever. Talk through her. That will get my attention for sure.

Thanks for listening. I'll be better in the morning..... I'll be back at
the library tomorrow night for Round 14, so catch me there.

Your ________________,