I've heard variations of this question a million times, but since I started discovering well-known people in my family tree, I hear it even more frequently. It's a question that is almost impossible for me to answer, given the extraordinary number of famous family members that are in my lineage: "Which family member, living or dead, would you like to spend some time with?"
When I started my family tree, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would find anyone famous hiding in the branches let alone dozens of well-known historic and living people. In fact I was shocked to even start finding so much about my paternal family, having known very little about them only 10 years ago. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that both of my paternal grandparents came from such well-documented families.
Narrowing down my choice to meet just one of my well-known family members is almost impossible. Who wouldn't want to sit and talk to Sir Winston Churchill, President Teddy Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or any of the other US Presidents that occupy a place in my tree? Even President Nixon, who was less than a great President would be an interesting person to talk to.
How about one of my Hollywood celebrity family members? Would dinner and drinks with Humphrey Bogart, his wife Lauren Bacall along with my other cousins, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy be boring? I highly doubt it! Maybe sitting on a patio, having a cigarette with Lucille Ball would be enlightening, or spending a quiet afternoon talking with Elizabeth Taylor?
Maybe attending a business meeting with Frank Winfield Woolworth and his brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth would be fun? But what about talking to John Pierpont "JP". Morgan or John Davison Rockefeller - would they give me insight into being more successful in business or investing?
How about spending time with one of my many talented cousins who sing? Would singing with Mary Chapin Carpenter while she played the guitar be relaxing? How about singing "Fun, Fun, Fun" with Brian Wilson and Mike Love? Maybe "Hey Santa" with cousins Carnie and Wendy Wilson? Maybe if my cousin James Taylor could get his ex-wife Carly Simon to come over the 3 of us could sing "Devoted To You"? Since I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, that idea is shot!
Maybe learning more about the US Revolution would be more exciting? Who wouldn't want to sit with General George Washington to learn how his strategies and determination brought down the super power that was England, and led to the founding of a new, free country? Would Thomas Jefferson join us?
The list goes on and on. There are simply too many - if that is even possible - famous relatives that I have the pleasure of calling my family. However, there is one person that, if my nerves could handle it, I would like to meet, and that is my 19th cousin, once removed, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Having travelled to England many times, I have often wondered what I would do if I accidentally came across Queen Elizabeth. It almost happened on my first visit to London - the Queen was at Royal Albert Hall reviewing the restoration work that was underway, and I was across the street at the Prince Albert memorial. I saw several fancy vehicles around the Royal Albert that day, but London is full of fancy vehicles. It was only later that I discovered that Her Majesty had been within walking distance of where I was on that day.
It was probably best that I didn't "bump into" Queen Elizabeth. Even though I was dressed well that day (I know, something unusual for me, especially when I am wandering around London!), I would most likely have been unable to speak let alone remember to politely acknowledge the Monarch with a bow. I know that I would have come across as an amusement at best, a buffoon at worst, as I have done a few times since when I have met celebrities. Strangely enough, most of the celebrities that I have seen or met have all been while I was in London.
Still, if I ever had the chance to meet Queen Elizabeth II, and the honor of being able to speak with her, it would be a moment in my life that I would remember forever. It probably will never happen, but London always seems to have surprises waiting for me. Maybe on my next trip to London - if this pandemic ever ends - I'll forgo the shorts and casual shirt as I explore the city, and dress a little nicer, just in case.