Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wishes Fulfilled: Repairing and Expanding the Tapestry We Call Life

Many times over the past few years, my niece, Rebecca, and I have lamented the fact that our already small family has shrunk even more.     We discuss this because when we have a "family gathering" we literally can rent one house with maybe 5 or 6 bedrooms and that seems to be enough to contain our immediate (non-extended) family.     As people close to us have died, we are reminded once again that  "we're all we've got".      Rebecca and I have said that so much to each other it has almost become a joke.

And yet there is some sad irony in that because we do have a few extended family members that are "out there" somewhere scattered across the country.    I have an inkling where to find some of them but others are well beyond the scope of my limited sleuthing abilities.     Over the years we've had contact with a few cousins from my mother's side of the family and one very short lived contact with a cousin from my dad's side.    Beyond that, I didn't have a clue where to look for anyone else whose name I could bring up.   Then out of the blue someone found ME.    

As some of you know, I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Facebook.    On the one hand it provides almost immediate (and sometimes REAL TIME) access to things my grandchildren are doing.   Comments with my daughter-in-law regarding "what's for dinner" bounce back and forth across cyberspace in the blink of an eye.   That's the part that is fun and makes me go back to FB several times a day.     The not so nice side of FB is that the site can and does do weird things occasionally like completely change the look of the  page that allegedly is "yours".    They also apparently can gather lots of random bits and pieces about your life that they can do with as they please.     And furthermore, if you're not careful with your settings, you can put yourself out on the internet for lots and lots of unwelcome attention.     So while my love affair is sometimes tepid, I have entered this relationship with a degree of caution.  

So having said that, Facebook is also the great connector of people from our past.     The long and difficult task of digging up people who were classmates, room mates, co-workers, fraternity brothers, neighbors, former ministers and yes, even family members has become much less of a chore.     One can literally type in a name and voila!    You will be pleasantly surprised to get a long list of people by that name.    If you're lucky, you might get a location to go with that name.    And with all the stars lined up, you might get a way to contact that person to see if they are, indeed, the person you are seeking.   

Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I happened to catch (almost out of the corner of my eye) a message on my FB page that said someone had sent me a message.    The name was instantly recognizable as one of my cousins on my dad's side of the family.     I quickly clicked on the link and to my amazement, she was reaching out to me and was  interested in re-establishing our connection as relatives.     I responded to her request with surprise and delight at this turn of events because suddenly, with no effort on my part, those wispy bonds of connection became a little bit firmer and visible.

We exchanged a flurry of messages back and forth and finally got each other's email address and we have been exchanging family stories, legend and lore, history and chronicles of our lives from when we last were even in the same room together.     So much time has passed and we each have almost a lifetime of events to exchange.    The last time we had a conversation, her son was a baby, my son was  in early grade school.     She has moved numerous times, as I have, too.     Her life has had drama and complications.   Mine has, as well.   There has been much joy for each of us, along with the sorrow and tragedy.   Like all lives, we've had a mix of bitter and sweet.     And we have only begun to do the catching up that we want to do. 

Why am I writing about this today?    The reason is partly because the reconnection with Cindy is a wish fulfilled for me.   I have thought long and hard about the lack of information to my family history.     Rebecca and I have discussed this endlessly about how the people who could answer so many questions we have are now gone.   We have found bits and pieces of our past but have had no one who could fill in a few details.     Having Cindy's information and perspective on what she remembers is like opening up a diary and finding out what a key family member thought.    She is privy to knowledge passed on to her by her father and her personal experiences with our grandmother and aunt.    The good news she is willing to share what she remembers.

She also has photographs of family members that I have wished a thousand times I had and could not find to save my life.    She told me yesterday that she is sending an album and some loose pictures to me that will be in here in a day or two.   To me, photographs are like a window back in time and I can hardly wait to see what I find.     One of the tasks is to try to identify who some of the people are in the pictures.    A bigger goal, one that I have already started envisioning, is a photobook with some of the pictures combined with some of the ones I have and stories that go along with the photographs.    Cindy and I have exchanged some of the family stories and we both have said that there are more.  I want some of them preserved for my grandchildren and for hers.     

There is one more reason for writing about this that I want to state clearly and plainly to Cindy and others who read this.      Having a connection back to my past has helped fill a kind of empty place in my heart.     It was not anything that I acknowledged but since reconnecting with Cindy, I have noticed that the feeling has receded just a little.     It was a feeling akin to loneliness and perhaps sadness that exists when the usual things that are found there are in such short supply.  

Our lives are like a tapestry woven together with many connections and events across time.    When you rediscover a thread that was there and then dropped out, it helps repair that tapestry to be stronger and, yes, prettier, when that thread is rewoven back into the whole of the piece.    I truly want to thank Cindy for making the effort to find me and other family members.     That empty spot in my heart has shrunk a little bit or more accurately has started to fill in with the knowledge that some  of my extended family connections that I thought were gone really are alive and well.     It feels good to know that we have a slightly bigger family than we did a few weeks ago and that together we're still here for each other, still able to recall the names and the faces of those who went before us.     It makes me feel good to know this and I hope it did the same for her!  

Happy Trails,



  1. I feel so excited to reconnect with Cindy, too! This is a beautiful entry, Marcia!

  2. I just spent the last 12 hours sitting with mom in the ER, some of those hours were very scary. To come home, by myself, right now..the rest of the family at the hospital and read this is very special to me. You described exactly how I feel. It is a beautiful entry, and I'm really glad you all are family. Cindy

  3. If someone had told us a few decades ago what we'd be able to do effortlessly with computers, from free video phone calls to friends and family all over the world to getting pretty much any question answered in seconds to easily reconnecting with people from our past whom we lost track of years ago, we would have accused them of reading too much science fiction. We're literally living in an age of miracles--and our kids, who have had these capabilities all their lives, think they're no big deal. Aging has many drawbacks, but still being able to feel wonder at these truly wonderful things provides some compensation.

  4. I am currently laid back in my recliner looking at all the pictures on our walls. We've always decorated the walls this way. We are all we've got. The thought flew through my mind as I looked at the walls that anyone else might find this overwhelming--and then I replied, "Screw them." This is our history. Parents who are no longer with us, Cousins I spent many summers with, Children from birth to now, and new arrivals like my great-grandaughter, Lillie. Every morning I enjoy a memory of people and events. Life is Good!



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