Is it easy for you to cooperate and get others to cooperate with you? How do you build trust? How do you overcome misunderstanding?
Frank Marshall Cross was a druggist – a pharmacist. I immediately pictured Mr. Gower in ”It’s a Wonderful Life”, the movie I watch every year around Christmas. Images in my mind turned to black and white, as Frank mixes potions for customers, answers questions and gives directions on how to use the medicine. He’s the go-to guy in the neighborhood when you can’t bear to ask your doctor one more time about another ailment that has you perplexed and a bit worried.
How did he deal with people and their different temperaments as they approached him with their needs?
How do you? How do you navigate your way through confusion? And how do you help people weed through theirs?
Frank was the second son of Hattie Marshall, first son of Addison and Hattie Cross, born in 1877 in Hudson, New Hampshire. After he married Mary Agnes Keenan, they moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts and he worked as a druggist while Mary stayed home to raise their three girls, Evelyn. Bertha, and Alice.
Last night, I was watching a documentary on the US healthcare system and its problems, I saw something that hit home. When you have a system that fails to provide a way for many doctors of one patient to connect and communicate, the patient is under-served. It hit home because it’s what I’ve been saying for years as we’ve struggled with unanswered questions and teams of doctors who don’t communicate with each other to coordinate care.
What in the world do the failures of modern healthcare have to do with Frank Marshall Cross and family history?
I’ll tell you. I faced several challenges in researching Frank Marshall Cross. Online research databases weren’t giving me enough
information about him. I had to pick up the phone and talk to my husband’s relatives.
Hearty “Hello’s!” became mumbled confusion and palpable eye-rolling when they finally understood the nature of my call. It wasn’t that the person on the other end of the line didn’t want to help. I blind-sided them about things that weren’t on the top of their mind.
Three times, on three separate days, the same relative had either just finished dinner, had phone service reconnected, or had lost my number when I called for the fourth time wanting more information on a third relative.
The second was noticeably perturbed – not because she didn’t want to tell me what she knew. She just couldn’t retrieve the facts locked in the back of her brain. She could see the people, but names, dates, and places eluded her. Two minutes after hanging up, she called back with phone numbers and email addresses to new people who could help me.
The third contact person I managed to reach, the one referred by the second, had to be reassured that I actually was related by marriage. “Who are you again?” The husband and wife, one on each phone, now in their 80′s, were more than happy to answer my questions. We ended our conversation as new friends as I relayed “Hellos” between Orlando and New Hampshire.
That was hard work! But there was no other way to get what I needed. Could I have done it differently? Yes. From now on, I’ll send an email and follow-up with a phone call. I understand that people need time to find documents and to sort through memories.
My job is to be the squeaky wheel. I see value in connecting the living to each other and to connect the dead to the living. Someone has to step up and be that communications coordinator – the one who sends out the family news letters and emails, collects emails addresses and phone numbers. Someone has to let everyone else know that they are part of a bigger community – a community connected by blood and marriage.
The story of Frank and his family are unfolding and will be written in the next few days.
But I gotta get all the wheels rolling in the same direction first!
Do you have similar communication problems? How have you solved yours? Do you have a go-to person for the family history in your family? Or are you the squeaky wheel?