The four ancestors I would choose are:
1) Lena Belinsky Lutsky, my ggm (born mid 1880s, died 1912)
2) Irene Lutsky Klein, my gm (born 1911, died 1986)
3) Sara Zembovsky(?) Klein, my ggm (born mid 1880s, died 1950s)
4) Bessie Berger Schneider, my gm (born ca 1910, died 1985)
These first two were easy to choose. Lena Lutsky, born Lea Belinki (Belinsky in the US) in Ukraine came to America in 1906 with some Kusinski cousins. Her future husband, my ggf Eliezer/Louis Lutsky had already come to the US from the same small town of Lysianka. Her younger brother Leib/Louis Belinki arrived in NYC in 1908. Lena married Louis Lutsky ca 1909. When the 1910 census was taken, Lena was probably very pregnant with her first child Israel/Irving. Her second child, my gm Ida/Irene was born Sept. 1911. The next official record I have for Lena in the US is her death certificate, dated Sept. 1912. She committed suicide the day after Irene's first birthday. I'd like to have dinner with Lena and Irene together. First I'd ask Lena the questions Irene always wanted answers to...why she jumped? Was she really walking up to roof with baby Irene until a neighbor offered to babysit? The story is that Lena was pregnant again, was exhausted and overwrought, no one to talk to, hormones probably raging from popping out one baby after another. I'd like to hear her story. I'd also like to know how she felt being the first member of her immediate family to come to US. Next I'd ask her about her parents, grandparents, siblings. I would also tell her that, even though her life was so short, her legacy continued and Irene and I would tell her what she missed.
After speaking to Lena, I'd tell Irene all about her legacy. I'd update her on my research so she could fill in the gaps and show her those unidentified pictures that were in her albums. I'd ask her about her name change from Ida to Irene and why she preferred to call my gf Harvey instead of Harry (actually born Aaron but that's another story). I'd get out my laptop and show her the internet. She loved learning new things and I think she would have loved the internet. She died in Jan. 1986 (I was only 21) when home computers looked like something made in someone's garage (and some were). I'd ask her how the connection to the Belinskys started to get lost sometime in the 1960s but let her know that we've reconnected in the past couple of years. I'd tell her that a few months ago we discovered cousins in Israel that we didn't know existed, and they didn't know about us.
I'd like to meet Sarah because I think she may have gotten a bad rap. This might not be a fun chat...she had a reputation for having a gruff voice and scary to children. She's referred to as a "whore" by my family when she's the one who divorced my ggf Abraham for cheating on her. I'd ask her about the 1931 divorce, was she scared divorcing her husband when her oldest children were already out on their own and she didn't have any work experience outside the home? I'd ask her when she died and where she's buried since nobody seems to remember. She lived with a man, a family friend Mr. Mendel, out of wedlock I believe so I'd ask about that. Did she love him or was it more of a financial/survival decision? I know nothing about her family so I'd ask for details about them and where they're from. When she married in 1905, she couldn't sign her name so I'd want to know if she eventually learned to read and write. I'd let her know that my Hebrew name is Sara Lea, the Sara for her, so she couldn't have been as bad as her reputation implies.
My grandma Bessie, born Peshe Bergzon in Lozdzieje (Lazdijai), Lithuania, lived with us for the last few years of her life. The first thing I'd do is apologize for those nasty teenager cracks, one I can remember made her leave the room in tears. She may not remember it but I do. She was known as a very good cook so I'd ask her to share some of her recipes. I'd let how know about my research, especially all of the information I have for her mother's branch of the family (the most populated branch of my family tree). I'd ask her about being a little girl during WWI. The area she lived in in Lithuania was evacuated by the Russians. They lived in Mogilev, Belarus until the war ended...her younger brother was born there. From the pictures I have of her family, I think they were comfortable financially so I'd ask about her life in Lithuania, school, Zionist activities. Why did they emigrate so late? Did she want to go with her brother David to Israel? Did she brag about David's being in the Palestinian army and fighting for the new nation? I'd want to know which family members didn't leave Europe before WWII and were killed in the Holocaust. I'd ask her about all of the friends and family in the pictures I have from Lozdzieje in the late 1920s.
Hopefully the crate of Kleenex I bought for these meetings will hold out (I doubt it)!