Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Book of Me, #19: Who Do you Miss?

This is my entry prompted by The Book of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselvesGo to for more information.

This week's assignment:

The continuation of the 15 month, weekly writing project about my life and memories, created by Julie Goucher
This week’s prompt (Prompt 19) is – Who Do You Miss?

Having just gone through the Festive season our thoughts turn to those not with us. 

Whether that is people who live elsewhere and that we will not see over the festive season or

People that have passed away.
Who do you miss?
Why do you miss them?
Them as an individual
Something specific to them

I have already spoken at length about my grandfather so I will choose someone else for this assignment.

When I started down the path of researching my family tree, I didn't have any real expectations as to how it would impact my life.  I had a tumultuous childhood and my relationship with my parents did not improve when I reached adulthood.  You'd think I wouldn't want to research a family that left me with a bunch of emotional baggage that I continue to try to unload.  But there have been some surprises and true blessings that have come from it.
My Aunt Elaine and my father, cir. 1932
Copyright ©2014 Linda O'Donnell All Rights Reserved

My father and his only sibling, my aunt, had an eight-year age difference (he was younger).  I remember spending time with my aunt and uncle and six cousins when I was young.  I always had a good time and even spent a week there while my parents took a vacation.  My dad, always difficult, had a falling out with my uncle and I was cut off from the entire family for about 45 years, until this past summer.  While doing my family research, I discovered my aunt was still living, and I contacted her, nervously, afraid she might reject my request to reconnect.  I was so surprised when she wrote back, with a sweet letter.  Next, the six cousins all followed suit, with emails that were so warm and welcoming that I couldn't resist their invitation to join them for their annual Fourth of July celebration in the Chicago area.

I was nervous before making the trip.  What if they were strange?  What if they didn't like me?  Would it be awkward?  Well, it turned out better than my highest expectations.  They are all wonderful, funny, intelligent and loving people who made me feel so welcome, I found myself in tears in response to their overwhelming welcome. I have an aunt!  I have cousins!  They are nothing like my parents! They truly are great people and I feel so blessed to have had the chance to reconnect.

So now, living about 600 miles away in central Arkansas, I find myself longing for more.  I want to get to know my cousins' spouses, their kids, their grandkids, and spend as much time with my precious aunt, who just turned 90 (and is in better health than I am!) as I can.  I want to hear about their childhood memories, how they met their spouses, their kids' lives, everything.  While I have a wonderful husband, daughter and brother and their families, I miss my newly-found family and crave spending time with them.

It won't be easy, as I have major health issues right now and cannot really travel, nor can I afford to.  (Medical bills really take their toll on one's budget!)  I'm hoping I can improve enough to make the trip again this summer, and introduce them all to my husband.  In the meantime, several of us are now Facebook friends and they can't escape because I know where they live....haha.  I miss them, and can't wait to get together again. 

Did I mention I have an aunt and six cousins?  It's very exciting.

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