Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Oh no! It happened again!

This really makes me sad and I bet it will you too. I just heard another story of a family's lost history. Weren't we going to do something about this problem? I thought we did. It's not enough sorrow that our oldest generation loses their best story tellers all the time but the deliberate destruction of personal family treasures is hard to take. My heart breaks.

Here's what happened recently and it tells of two kinds of family history loss. I sent a message to a user on when I found her tree with some of Mom's House people. She's descended from one of Samuel Albert House and Mary Elizabeth (Farrell) House's 15 children and Mom and I descend from another. We messaged back and forth a while in the beginning of the year and then she got busy with life, as we do from time to time. But a couple of days ago we got messaging again.

Now I'm super fortunate in that Mom saves everything. We have photos, birth and death certificated, copies of wills and land transactions. It's a vast treasury of our family's history. But not everyone is so lucky, and my House cousin isn't one of us in that regard.

Her mother wasn't one to keep ties strong so when her immediate family moved far away, that was pretty much the last my House cousin saw of her extended family. There was one trip back east when cousin visited her Aunt Sue and noticed all the old family photos on the wall. I thought about how different that was than my upbringing where we just about lived in everyone else's pockets. Grandmas told stories, aunties shared traditions, and you knew your immediate family tree because they all sat at the supper table. I tell ya, I felt bad for my new-to-me House cousin and wanted to reach right out and give her a big hug. I'm guessing that because of that physical distance as well as the emotional distance from relatives, she didn't feel that she was able to make a deeper connection there. I've done that same thing with certain family connections and just didn't take full advantage of what they know or had in their stash. Opportunity lost.

I have come to think that most of us yearn for the knowledge of family and to know how we're connected to them. We want to feel connected to our own people. Our House cousin could see that there was a family to be connected to, just out of reach. After cousin's mom's health failed as well as her memory, she realized that the connections were also fading. She remembered her Aunt Sue and these photos and wished that she'd paid more attention. Who hasn't done that?

And then House cousin related a story about her Aunt Sue and when she passed. Aunt Sue had three boys and she left them everything, including the family home place and all the family history treasures. Which they threw out. House cousin would have gladly taken all of the old family stuff, but they hardly knew her and if they remembered her at all probably wouldn't have guessed that she of all people would be interested in that old stuff. So, not knowing what to do with it all, they just went on and threw it all out.

You've likely heard of stories that are greatly similar to this one. Gosh, my own Dad's aunt died without passing on her holdings of family history and photos. So, not knowing what to do with it all and not wanting to take it on themselves, her sons burned it all out in the yard. Oh, what Mom and I would give right this minute to have it! But we'd grown distant from the boys and they had no way of knowing that we wanted it, would have gladly taken it all.

It's like that sometimes. We keep from reaching out because of something or other when all the while all we want is to be closer and to share.

No photo today
to represent all the lost photos.

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  1. Diane,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks so much, Jana!! Have a great weekend:)