Tag Archives: death

Another Genealogy Friend Gone

This week, I’m pausing my discussion on county histories to remember a friend with a shared love of genealogy that we lost too soon.

My good friend and genealogy buddy, Annette Sands Botello died on 17 November 2022 at about 1:30 in the morning. I was able to visit her on the 16th in her hospice bed. She was not really “there” though she looked at me once, accidentally kicked me when she moved her leg and she uttered a “sorry,” and smiled occasionally as I chatted with her husband Ys about good times we’ve had and our fond memories. It was only about four weeks between diagnosis and her death. It was quite sudden and none of us were prepared for it.

The last trip Annette and I took to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in 2018.

Annette and I took a couple of genealogy trips together, usually to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. We would research all day, take a sack lunch to eat outdoors in the beautiful gardens of Temple Square, and work on our findings in our room at night. One time, we went to Charleston, South Carolina for an NGS Conference. One afternoon we played hooky and took a little drive to visit some ancestral lands of some folks she was researching. We also stopped at a beach and put our toes in the ocean.

Just two girls from Colorado with our toes in the Atlantic.
Annette with her feet in the ocean.
Annette on the wooden walkway that leads to the ocean.
Annette and I on one of our many visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
From left: Henrietta Christmas, Denise Miller, Me, Ruth Ratliff, and Annette Botello. At one of our trips to the Family History Library, this time in June 2010.

Annette was very passionate about her family history. She gave several fantastic presentations here in Colorado, usually case studies on the work she’d done with her ancestors. She facilitated a Mexico genealogy group in Denver and helped many learn how to work on their genealogy. She always had time to meet up at a coffee shop and talk genealogy. Most recently we met up at Starbucks on a warm summer day and she shared with me her plan for an upcoming trip to West Virginia to meet up with many cousins she hadn’t seen in a long time. She really wanted to find a particular cemetery and conducted all of this research in old and modern maps to locate it. She had a fantastic trip and shared her stories with our little genealogy group when she returned.

This is our little genealogy club at our favorite coffee shop. From left: Annette, Deb, Me, Birdie, Denise, and Ruth. This was taken in February 2010.

I met Annette near the same time I met Birdie Holsclaw. Most of us attended the Boulder Genealogical Society. Denise Miller wanted to start a “support group” for those of us interested in getting our genealogy certification. Our group consisted of Birdie, Denise, Annette, Deb Skoff, and Ruth Ratliff. We met about once per month at a little local coffee shop. We did that until I moved to Texas for a while. During that time we tried to do Skype calls but it was too noisy in the coffee shop and the internet wasn’t great so it was a bit frustrating for myself to try to attend remotely. Then came the pandemic and we all started meeting on Zoom and our group was restored! It may be the only great thing that came out of the pandemic, me getting to meet with these ladies on the regular again!

I know for a fact that Annette was not “done” with her genealogy, nor was it in a state to be left for others to pick up. She was always working on it. She always had plans for more. And she thought she had more time. I am taking this as a sign that I need to get my genealogical affairs in order so that if the end came suddenly for me, all of my hard work would be in a reasonable state for someone else to take over or benefit from the work I’d done.

Annette hasn’t only been a genealogy friend. Her family has been so welcoming to my family over the years. Her husband Ys helped my son one school year with his math class when he did homeschooling. My son was not really a math person and having someone other than mom help him with a difficult subject seemed to do the trick. I’m forever grateful for Ys helping us through that year of school! When we moved back to Colorado in August 2020, we moved in two stages. Our daughter Ellie and I came to Colorado so she could get started in school while my husband stayed behind in Texas to get the house ready to sell and to pack up the remainder of our stuff. We lived in a rental for the first part and we kept our lawn mower in Texas so Seth could keep the yard looking nice. Ys kindly came once a week to lend his mower and his labor to help us keep the rental house lawn mowed until Seth got there. I got to know their daughters and have watched them grow from young teens into fine young women each with their own interesting path, yet always a close and loving family. It was a real blessing to have the Botellos in our lives. As they move into this new phase of their lives, I can only imagine the hole they must feel without Annette by their sides. And I know they all had a very strong faith and know she is in a better place.

I just imagine her hanging out with Birdie again, taking genealogy and movies and technology, and it makes me smile.

You will be missed, Annette.

There is a fundraiser to help the family with expenses, if you are so inclined.

Genealogical Preparedness – Part 6 – Getting the Wind Knocked Out of You

Birdie and Russ Holsclaw at the author's 35th Birthday party.
Birdie and Russ Holsclaw at the author’s 35th Birthday party.

It happens to everyone at some point. Something big. Something that just really knocks you off course. I know it’s happened to me several times. But in genealogical terms, there have been a few times when I just didn’t want to do it anymore, or at least for a while. I’m positive this has happened to almost everyone. You are happily living your life and something happens that just changes your whole attitude. Everything you had in place was somehow changed, your thoughts and plans seemed superfluous and unnecessary. Whatever the “thing” was that changed your outlook, it takes some time to get the wind back in your sails.

One major thing that happened to me as far as genealogy life goes, was the death of my mentor Birdie Holsclaw in 2010. I know I’ve mentioned her before in my blog. Sometimes you just meet people who stick with you long after they are gone. Birdie was one of those people. She gave me the confidence and encouragement to move forward with genealogy beyond being a hobbyist. When she died, many of us were devastated. She left us too soon. I know a lot of those feelings are selfish. It was her time. It was the will of God or the Universe or Science… whatever you believe. It was just her time. Many of my thoughts about her are really about me and what I miss from her, what I would like to talk to her about, her opinions I want to hear about genealogical topics of the day and I wasn’t done learning from her or enjoying her company.

After she died, I really just did not want to do genealogy. The wind was definitely gone from my genealogical sails. It was approximately 3 or 4 months before I got myself back up again. I would look at a unique record I found and think about tell Birdie about it, or get confused on some problem and want to ask for her opinion or guidance, or I would see a new movie and wonder what she would have thought about it (she loved movies). And when the realization that I couldn’t would flood in, well, I would just not want to do the work. This still happens actually, but I’ve moved passed the pain and the not wanting to do it into a place of doing it in her honor. I think of the encouragement that she gave me, the belief she had in me, and think that I need to be doing what I’m doing to be a good steward of her memory, to fulfill what she saw in me.

There have been minor things that have happened that steal my thunder. Clients not wanting to do more research, projects falling through, checks lost in the mail, critics, online arguments, seeing colleagues not be nice to each other, hearing complaints over things that are super minor, having to go through a lot of revisions on a small item, general negativity… When too many of these things that happen everyday, sometimes I just turn the computer off and go do something else. It is just too much and it is not worth getting stressed out over. I can usually deal with these small crises better when I’ve had time away. If I want to keep the wind in my sails, I have learned that I have to protect myself from the negative.

Few things are as devastating as the loss of a loved-one. Learning skills to deal with these times and “get back on the horse” can be crucial to long-term success. Sometimes, you might just need to do a complete overhaul of your genealogical life. Sometimes you may just need a break. After I turned in my BCG portfolio, I don’t think I did anything genealogical for almost 3 weeks. And that’s ok. The important thing is to take care of yourself and get back in the game.