Friday, July 18, 2014

Road Trip, Days 15 and 16 - Missouri and Family Found

The third week of our road trip started heading back west, toward home.  It began with an important stop in Missouri to see family.  Not just any dad's family that we recently found and reconnected with.  It was a meaningful stop and maybe even more so than I can understand or put into words.  I know this because just starting to put this post together has me choked up.  It may be hard to find the right words to explain this story but I will try.

My dad grew up in Missouri and my mom spent most of her life growing up in California.  They got married and lived in Missouri for a short time but ended up back in California where they raised my brother and I and have remained for over 53 years.  The miles between the two states made it difficult to see my dad's family much when I was growing up.  I feel like I barely knew my grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins.

My dad worked for Santa Fe Railroad for many years.  So, we were able to travel by train at a discounted rate or free.  My mom took my brother and I on the train to Missouri at least a couple of times.  However, I remember only seeing my grandfather (my dad's parents were divorced) on those visits. I also remember my mom taking us in the basement to hide when my uncle came over.  I didn't understand this then and I still don't.  It just seems that my mom didn't like my dad's family other than my grandpa.  We did see grandma when my dad came with us.  But, the cost of traveling so far didn't allow us to see them very often.  I wish I could have seen them all more often and gotten to know them so much more than I did.

I remember my grandfather coming to see us only once or twice.  My grandmother, however, came to see us many times.  So, it's interesting that my mom lead us to believe grandpa was great and grandma wasn't.  I'm not sure what may have happened to make her feel that way.  I've even talked with my dad about it and he doesn't understand it either.  But, it makes me sad that we missed out on getting to know all of my dad's family.  

My dad's parents both passed away when I was in my early 20's.  Then, somehow, we lost contact with my aunt.  I had very few memories of her but they were all great and it bothered me that we didn't know how to contact her.

Several years ago, shortly after I'd decided to try Facebook, I thought of looking for my aunt.  I found her!  And, she was excited and happy that I did.  Wow!  And, my dad was thrilled to be reconnected with his baby sister!  Yes, folks...Facebook can be a blessing...not just an addictive time waster.  ;-)

Soon after I found her, we worked together via phone and the Internet to locate my uncle.  No one was answering the phone at his place and my dad was worried.  I started calling nursing homes.  It just happened that the first one I called was the right one.  He passed away shortly after that.  I never knew him very well either.  Luckily, my dad was able to see him one more time.

Since I found my aunt, she's been to California and we were able to spend an afternoon together.   Her grandson/my cousin's son was living in California for college and we got to meet him.  This time, we were going to get to see her and cousins that I hardly know and meet her husband.  We were excited!  They were too.  :-)

We had hoped to leave Memphis by sun up to get to her house by mid day.  However, the heavy storms prevented us from leaving until mid morning.  So, we didn't get to her house until around 6 p.m.  That was a bit disappointing but we savored every moment we had together.  She made us an amazing meal and we spent hours chatting and getting to know one another more.

We enjoyed the views of the lake from her beautiful home and dock.  My daughter sat on the dock watching the sunset and the lightning bugs.  We ended up talking late into the night.

I loved seeing pictures of my grandmother that she had hanging on the wall...

She was so pretty.

These were grandma's parents...

The next morning, my aunt brought out old photo albums that belonged to my grandma.  What a treat that was!  This picture blows my mind!  That's my dad's mom in the center, with her arm around my mom's mom.  To me, it says that my grandma (dad's mom) was a sweet and caring person.  Quite different than how my mom had talked about her all my life.

I recently had a chance to chat with my dad alone and we talked about a lot of things.  He said grandma was a very sweet person.  This pictures shows that.  It makes me even more sad that I barely knew her.  It comforts me to have heard from my aunt that grandma had my picture by her chair and that she loved me very much.  She even loved to crochet and did so in the chair next to my picture.

I was lucky enough to live near my mom's parents and was quite close with that grandma.  I have great memories with her.  Although she died by the time I was around 10 and grandpa passed away a few years prior.  So, my time was limited with them as well.

There were even pictures of me as a baby in one of those albums.
Look how proud my grandma was of me...

Here I am with my parents.  What a tiny wagon!

Hey...I remember that rocking horse!  :-)

A happy moment!

I love my mom very much.  However, she's always been a very negative person about most everyone around her, especially me.  I've tried to help her see the good in life but I realize that she's the only one that can change.  And, at this point in her life, it's unlikely that will ever happen.

Luckily, there is one thing we've been able to connect on.  It's something that she doesn't find bad in and it's our "happy place".  It's crochet, knitting, sewing and crafting.  We can talk about those kinds of things without it becoming's all good!  Ahhhh!  I'm so grateful to her for sharing her love of crafting, knitting, crochet, and sewing with me and for all she taught me.  It's a passion for me and I can't imagine life without it.  And, without it, there would be no happy place to meet my mom.

 I've been trying hard for years to figure her out, things she's done, and why some things happened.  I have figured out a few things and some pieces have come together.  I realize, however, that I will never know or find all the pieces.  And, I'm finally okay with that.  But, I've found some of the most important pieces and we're back together!

Me and my Aunt Linda!  :-)

The next day, we drove a couple of hours away to see my cousins.  The time was short but better than nothing.  And, it's just a start!  I'm sure we'll all see each other again and again!

Somehow, I didn't get a lot of pictures of everyone.  Pictures were being taken by various phones and cameras but this is the only one I got.  Hopefully, next time, we'll have more time together and we'll be sure to take a lot more photos! 


mamasmercantile said...

What a beautiful post, so happy that you were able to reconnect with your family. Have a great weekend.

Cindie said...

What a wonderful stop on your trip!

Delighted Hands said...

Now this was a wonderful connection! You have an incredible heritage!

Benita said...

How wonderful that you get to know part of your family better. You and your Aunt Linda look a lot alike! I hope you can keep in touch with them.