The picture above includes my first cousins – Rose (on the left) and Diane (on the right) – and my Uncle Charlie (in the middle). Even though we are first cousins, I haven’t seen them since we were kids…with one exception. That one exception was when my father died in 1996 at 64 yrs old. Diane, Rose, and my uncles attended the funeral. At that time, my parents were divorced so my father’s new wife handled all the arrangements. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the lines of communication between my father’s side of the family and his children ended when my parents divorced.
Because we lost contact, we weren’t notified when my uncle Cecil (1997 at 66 yrs old) and his son Cecil Jr died within 5 months of each other (1998 at 40 yrs). Rose pictured above, died in Jan 2002 (43 yrs), and my uncle Charlie died in 2004 (69 yrs)…we received no notifications. In 2008, when my sister Eva died, we didn’t notify my father’s side of the family. It wasn’t deliberate, just a consequence of broken communication lines.
There were numerous happy events we all missed as well. Marriages, births, graduations, baptisms, promotions…so many reasons to celebrate were missed.
After uncle Charlie died, I received a notification for the Davis Family Reunion. What a blessing! I don’t recall how I got on the mailing list, but I was excited to be notified. Not only was I notified, but the reunion was being held in Washington DC which is driving distance from my home. My family in Virginia attended, obtained uncle Roosevelt’s phone number, and made contact. We got a chance to talk to uncle Roosevelt several times before he passed in 2010 (76 yrs). We also got a chance to connect with Diane, and exchange updates on our families.
The conversations with uncle Roosevelt reminded me when my parents were married. We visited Mobile, AL every summer until I graduated from high school. When I attended college, the visits stopped. After college graduation, I worked…married…had children…and retired. My children and grandchildren, have not met my father’s side of the family. It’s too late for some, but not for all.
Luanne’s post “The Family Kalamazoo – A Mulder Connection”, encouraged me to reach out to my first cousins on my father’s side. On 13 Jan 2016, my Mom and I talked to Diane for about 45 minutes. The conversation was very uplifting and filled a void in my heart that I did not know was there. I found out that Diane documented the family tree for our grandmother going back three generations. She also told me where they were buried, and how they died. She asked if we remembered her coming to visit us in Chicago for about a month. At the time, Diane was 13 yrs old, so I must have been about 8 yrs old. I don’t remember the visit, but I do remember Diane. She asked about Elaine and Roland (my siblings), recalling their names without assistance after all these years!
We vowed to keep in touch, just as we did when I contacted her last, more than five years ago. This time, I’m keeping my word. Sometimes, life happens and things are out of our control. Other times we have control. The decisions we make every day change our lives for generations to come. Our parents may get divorced or separated, but the family ties should not.
Between The Dashes