Past & Present Converge for a Time Traveling, Baby Boomer Genealogist-Mom in Washington, DC (Part 1)

Often, as family historians, we work so hard at researching the history of our family’s past, that we overlook the present, forgetting that in the future, today will become the past.

Meg and Pat Biallas in front of the  Capitol.

Huh?  What?

Essentially, what I’m saying is this: by not recording the stories of our own lives today for our descendants, we’re unwittingly presenting the same challenge to said descendants, should they choose to research our lives at some point in the future.

With that in mind–and  in effort to preserve a slice of my very near past for my own descendants–I’ve written a 4-part series of posts which focuses on an event that occurred just two weeks ago, when this genealogist-mom combined a mother-daughter bonding weekend in Washington, DC with two visits to the National Archives.


Just another day on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, in front of the National Archives.

One day  was spent on Civil War research. The second day, which was much more fruitful, was used to meet some recently discovered cousins for the very first time who live within miles of the nation’s capital—strangers really, who were willing to take a chance on meeting this unknown cousin for the first time on the steps of the National Archives.

(Thanks for your trust and faith, Ralph and Kathy—so rare in these troubling times!)

I’ll also share what it’s like to be a 60-something Baby Boomer living the DC life for a few days with my 20-something millennial daughter, who’s been living and working in the nation’s capital for the past 5 years.

This is my story:

 Day 1: Thursday, November 12

 An uneventful mid-afternoon flight from Chicago’s Midway airport landed at Reagan International in Washington, DC around 6 pm EST. Daughter Meg, who came straight to the airport after work, met up with me in baggage claim. We hopped a bus and arrived 30 minutes later at her latest residence, a rowhouse she shares with three other single DCers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

(Note: young people move around a lot in DC. I think this is at least Meg’s 4th address in that town in the five years she’s lived there—a nice thing actually, as it enables these young adults to meet and mix with numerous others like themselves, in various neighborhoods across the city.)

“Welcome to DC, Mom.”

I met the first of her three room-mates, Stephanie, who writes health care policy on Capitol Hill, and another room-mate, Daniel, who works as a congressional aide for a member of Congress. He’d  just returned from a trip to London the day before.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet Amy, Meg’s third room-mate, as she was  in Peru at the time. Amy is a journalist who writes for the Congressional Quarterly Roll Call.

(These young people travel–a lot.)

Did I also mention that these DC millennials are generally very well educated?

Many have multiple degrees or are actively working on their next one. Most are also highly goal-oriented, compassionate humanitarians whose idealistic ambitions are focused on the greater good.

What a positive and refreshing cohort to belong to!

Meg herself is the online communications manager for a national non-profit that addresses sexual violence. In her previous job as a communications professional, she focused on policies to improve the lives of children.

Back to my itinerary…

After settling in at her place, Meg brought out a batch of spaghetti sauce she’d cooked up earlier in the week for our first meal together in her new abode. We caught up a bit on family gossip and made plans for the next day before heading off to bed. I was assigned her bedroom on the 3rd floor; she got the futon in the nearby loft right down the hall. (Good decision, Meg. I slept like a baby. Thank you.)

Good night, all.  More tomorrow…

IMG_0273 copy(Tomorrow’s Post:  A trip to the National Archives; meeting Desmond cousins for the very first time, and an entertaining Comedy Review of all  things Washington.)


 Photos and post copyright © 2015, Patricia Desmond Biallas

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A Desmond Thanksgiving, c. mid-1970s

12239202_10153846671703933_365640937440757921_oThanksgiving in the mid-1970s at the home of newlyweds, Gerry & Donna Desmond, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Doing the honors with the turkey is our Dad, Gerald J.Desmond, Sr. (1909-1979).

(Velour shirts on the men and the macrame cord from a hanging plant in the center, surely give that era away!)

Yesterday, on 11/24/2015, Gerry  & Donna became grandparents for the very first time. (See previous post.)

And the Desmond generations go on…

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Another New Bud on the Desmond Branch (model 2015)

Welcome to the family, Ethan. Glad you arrived!

Ethan_01Ethan Ryan Cowen

born Tuesday, November 24, 2015

at 12 minutes past midnight, EST

to Erin Desmond Cowen and Will Cowen.

11222236_10206603659804336_1661298233731363910_nCan’t wait to meet you in person!


Great Aunt Patti


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