There was just one word on Lily's lips, "No." Then she fled.
She was just a teenager and they were going to cut off both of her legs. As a child raised in poverty, she had contracted rickets early on. She could walk, not very fast and in a great deal of pain, but these were her legs and she refused to let them be amputated.
Back at the house, a cart had arrived to carry her to the hospital. Young Lily could hear her family calling in the street wanting her to get on it. She cowered in her hidey-hole until they'd gone away. The hours ticked into darkness, but still she didn't emerge.
It was morning before she was eventually found, but by then her tearful mother was ready to accept Lily's choices. It would be a life held in agony, but they never did summon that cart back. Lily kept her legs.
In another time and another place, Murray was willing to lose it all for love. As the eldest son and heir, he stood to inherit a comfortable amount of wealth. Now he stood in a house, in the posh suburb of town, and told his parents that he didn't care. They could disinherit him, if that was their wish, he would marry his farm girl.
His beloved Nelly was cringing, intimidated by his furious father. She knew that Murray had no concept of living on the breadline. She also acknowledged that she was not his intellectual equal. He could get bored and resent her for all he'd lost. She suggested that he should listen to his parents. She would just go home.
Murray refused. They married with neither the consent nor presence of his family. It took years and grandchildren before they relented. He received his inheritance, but never respect for his wife. His parents took their hatred of her to their graves.
There is only one link between the impoverished Lily and the defiant, middle class Murray - the marriage of my parents.
These are just two of the stories that have emerged from tracing my own family tree. There are many more. I could have shared heart-breaking scenes of suicide; a desperate escape from the Irish genocide; the triumph of a successful invention; the roaring rebellion of a man imprisoned for politics; or the shame of another man imprisoned for fraud. Even those stories would have been merely the tip of the iceberg.
I have spent decades researching my family history. One thing that I've learned is that, when the entire expanse of the past is uncovered, anything and everything can occur. These are people who had lives every bit as real as your own; and they lived them fully.
What will you uncover in your own family tree?