Sunday, April 17, 2011
Today, I came across this on my computer. I was shocked. Obviously I was compelled to write this down. It is a total blog - before blogging! After reading it just now - this is what genealogy is all about, right? Enjoy.
- The Photo-Album -
Just two years ago – I did not care! I’m telling you - I did not care really, who my great grandparents were, where they came from, where the lived, who their families were. Didn’t care who the cousins I have never met were all about, or that one cousin is a disabled vet, living in Arkansas whom I had not seen since childhood.
When my mother passed away just two years ago last month, a photo album was passed on to me, because my sister’s were not interested either. Since I lived the closest to where my mom had lived in Gresham, “just give it to Mary” was a familiar sound. That way – no one had to ship the items. It was easier that way. In fact I ended up with a lot of things from my mom that way. Today I treasure them all.
One day about a month after the death of my mother, I opened the photo-album and it instantly grabbed me. In it, were people that my mother cared about. Deeply. I had remembered Mom telling me about two years earlier, “you might think that is weird, Mary, but one day you will appreciate it”. Well she sure was right! Unfolding before my eyes, were obituaries of her parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, a couple of brothers along with a whole slew of relatives including one of my own cousins from her home town in Ruthven, Iowa.
I remember Ruthven, Iowa. It was where my family would group for our three month furlough from being over sea’s. The cousins would come over. We would see grandma and grandpa. Grandpa would sneak us $20 bills every now and then. Grandma would cook up a storm preparing food for any of her own grown children (six kids) and other grandchildren who would stop by. The kids would hop from car top to car top in Grandpa’s junk yard. We would make forts in the barn with hay, and sleep there on hot summer nights. We would sit on the fence with our cousins and sing to the cows. My Dad even fixed up one of the cars from the junk yard so it would run, and then give us driving lessons there. Grandpa built me some stilts.
Nothing in Ruthven, Iowa had a bad memory for me. As I pondered over this photo-album I just knew I had to start a tree. I just felt I had to make some sense out of it all. Had to figure out how these people were related to me. So I started a tree. It has over 600 people in it now. All are ancestors that mean a lot to me. Every time I find an obituary of a Great Great or Great Great Great Grandparent it absolutely thrills me! I have read some great stuff and admired the traits of many of my ancestors.
This photo album has given me such incredible gifts and blessings. If my mom only knew! The cousin Greg in Arkansas had photos of our great grandpa who was in the army in 1898. Never thought I’d see a photo of him. He had a photo of our great great Grandpa and his new wife. Never thought I’d see a photo of them. Also he has a coin that our Great great Grandpa wore in his shoe for good luck in the 1860’s during the war and sent me a photo of it. I have been able to share with Cousin Greg all about my life and the love of God and he is an excellent listener.
That photo album eventually put me in touch with a fourth cousin who lives in Virginia whom I am in regular contact with. She had photos of our shared family, including the old family farm in the 1800’s. She had a couple of wills of uncles that have long since passed along with the obituaries of her own two parents who have passed on. I have been able to share with her where I go to church and have encouraged her to start attending church after so many years. She has and loves it. We are now in touch with another 4th cousin from the same family lines. Our ancestors were all brothers.
That photo album has taken away the pain of my mom’s passing. I have been able to share regularly with her living cousins in Ruthven, Iowa and them with me. They miss her too.
The photo album will continue to bless as more of my family’s story spills out. I thank God for all the gifts He has given me and the many more surely to come. Today I can honestly say “I care a lot!”
By Mary (Lyon) Hellman, 2009
Posted by mjhellman at 11:29 AM