I am finally home after 2 weeks away, and it is very good to be here.
That said, I had a grand time with my cousins at the end of my trip. I spent the weekend at the Virginia home of my cousin Jim and his wife, Carrie. They have a very nice house on some very nice acreage – and a primo back deck, which is where we sat and talked most of the time. The weather was warm and the hospitality even warmer.
We spent quite a few hours with Jim’s parents, too (his mother, Dot, is my Dad’s first cousin), and it was wonderful to see them again and to enjoy their company. I’d forgotten how much fun that family is! I think we laughed most of the time that we were together.
For part of Saturday afternoon we stood around Dot’s beautiful grand piano and sang the beloved old hymns that we grew up with. There is nothing like the harmony of family members, and that was really a treat for me.
Over the course of the weekend, Dot graciously opened up her treasure trove of family history and photographs, which had been left to her by our Aunt Ethel (who was truly the keeper of the family history during her lifetime). Both Jim and I inherited the family history “gene” from Aunt Ethel, and we came away with a lot of information for the family tree. Aunt Ethel, God bless her, labeled nearly all of the photographs that came her way, and she had some photos that dated back four and five generations of the family. Jim and I spent a few hours scanning those photos into the computer so that they’d be preserved for posterity.
We also discovered that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There were unexpected pregnancies in the family, divorces, lost family members, an invalid (Civil) War veteran – you name it, we had it. In a way, it’s comforting to know that life really is something of a continuum, from generation to generation. Everyone has mishaps and screw-ups. And by the grace of God we can triumph and thrive in spite of them.
We have lots of leads for the family tree now, and I’m enjoying the research. There is so much online! I even found my great-great grandfather’s Civil War pension record; cost me $1.95 to download a copy – cheap, when all is said and done. It’s not just finding out the names of the folk and filling in the family tree -- it’s more about filling in the events of their lives and getting a flavor for how they lived. That’s the exciting part of family research! That’s the essence of the connection with people we’ve never met but with whom, for better or worse, we share the family traits and traditions.