My grandmother, Frances, came to the US with her husband around 1918. They settled in the Chicago area and had a family. Genevieve, Ted, Eddie, and Vicki. Fast forward a dozen years and Frances’ husband was killed in an accident. Grieving, and with four kids to support, Frances decided to go home to Poland where she at least had family. Not long after she arrived, she remembered why they left. There was little opportunity for her to support her children.
She and her family came up with a plan. Each of her sisters would house and care for one of her children while Frances returned to the US and tried to establish herself. This time she ended up in Detroit, where she worked cleaning houses and met and married the man who would be my mom’s dad.
They sent money back to her family for passage for the four children, but only three arrived. The oldest, Genevieve was missing. Frances was frantic. The other kids had been housed elsewhere and didn’t know where their sister was. After some exhaustive letter writing they learned the sister who had Genevieve had emigrated to Russia and took her with them.
Frances contacted the Red Cross, the American Embassy, and any organization she thought might help, with no success. They were never able to track down the sister and her family or Genevieve. She was lost to her family.
I tell you all this because this story is why I learned Russian and studied Russian history. At that time, I was still writing for my own entertainment and one day I planned to write this story. Years passed and I never did. A family saga isn’t the type of story I enjoy reading and I don’t see myself writing one. (Photo is of my grandmother and my mom.)
I guess I’ll never write about Genevieve.
Except, I kind of did. At least as close as I could do it. Irena Teskey, the victim in the upcoming book has been raised by people who aren’t her family even though her father is alive and well and taking care of his other child. Irena wasn’t kidnapped and taken from her family. She was pushed away. But I can’t help seeing the similarity to Genevieve, who also had to go through life denied her family.
When I sent the book in to my editor, I didn’t have a dedication. It’s way too late to get one in the book now, so this is my unofficial dedication for A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder.
For Frances and Genevieve.