My affection and gratitude to those who had collectively given our tree the strength and protective powers that I frequently take for granted. Your example of love, devotion, loyalty, and good sense makes my life choices effortless. In an era when tending a bud into a mensch was nothing short of heroic, you made it your single mission. Then you held my hand as I guided new buds into mensch to make our tree proud. This is to hymn your valor.

I cannot properly express my gratitude to my immediate and extended family for their input and support. After seeking the perfect words for years, I resort to ordinary ones with the hope that my children and my cousindom feel the appreciation and bond behind them.

I am especially indebted to the tree-mates with whom we only learned of each other’s existence recently, thanks to twists and coincidences worthy of movie plots. Your enduring composure in the face of my hello-I-think-we-might-be-related greeting followed by poking your memories and raiding your photo albums, your unconditional welcome made me understand how fortunate I was to have discovered you and how much I had missed by not knowing you sooner.

My kinfolk not merely contributed information, we shared the anticipation and the thrill of sightings of previously unknown facts, names, and faces in the chiefly anonymous tangle referred to as roots. The results would have been meager, indeed bleak, without your insight and encouragement.

By rights, the idea of family story should have originated with me, a seasoned grandmother, but it had with you, Emily – clearly, mother does not always know best or is necessarily wiser. And your, Polina, gift of a photo scanner before I realized I would need one and your detour through the German hamlet that shared its name with your grandmother’s surname, inspired me more than you will ever know. This story is yours and for you.

The vision of my offspring – with honorifics grand, great-grand, and beyond — quizzing part of their past they find here became the ultimate incentive. You are entrusted with keeping our family chronicle up-to-date when I decide, or after it is decided for me, that your turn has come. This story is yours and for you.

The very nature of the now-extinct worlds dealt to us presumes scant or missing, forgotten or muddled records and recollections. That, by itself, makes our story not merely worth telling but mandatory knowing. I am no judge of whether my memories escaped their encounter with hindsight without scratches but I did try to keep these adversaries apart. This is not a memoirs, this is my view, frame by remembered or reconstructed frame, of my tree. The absence of the original participants and records left me no choice but to extrapolate then bridge some recaptured slivers. A process, by definition, flawed, no matter how diligently carried out. Corrections and additions are welcome, now and always.