Long gaps between generations in my family meant that my brother, John, and I never
knew any of our grandparents and in many cases did not even know their names or what
they looked like. Fortunately John had kept an old tin trunk in his attic which
contained an assortment of old letters and documents. Using these, and the resources
of the John Rylands library I was able to find a rich vein of information about the
Goodwin ancestors, some of whom had helped establish the Methodist Church.
I was left with a few items which were difficult to place relating to my great uncle
JJ Goodwin. Why was he in India? Who was Vivekananda, mentioned in JJ’s obituary?
I pieced these oddments together into a folder and took them along to a meeting
of the Winchester Genealogical Society, whose members were unable to help.
The following morning was wet and stormy. I had gone to my customary task of caring
for the poetry section in my local Oxfam bookshop. Languishing in the covered yard
I found a copy of “In search of God and other Poems” . It was hard to make out the
then unfamiliar name of Vivekananda on the cover but the discussions of the previous
evening made this easier. A glance at the contents showed a poem entitled “Resquiescat
in Pace”. I knew that JJ had died young and that he was a disciple of Vivekananda.
I had interpreted the word disciple (with some truth as it turned out) to mean friend.
Had Vivekananda been moved to write a poem about the loss of his young friend JJ
My hunch turned out to be true, and even more exciting to the family historian, there
was a note at the back of the book explaining the part that JJ had played in recording
Vivekananda’s speeches and getting them published.