Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cousin Connections

I've love going to our family reunions and watching my kids reconnect with their cousins.  It's like old friends who meet up.  They're absolutely thrilled to see each other and then  immediately pick up where they left off.  To hear my kids in the car as we drive up to the hotel,'s kind of magical.  The sound of love and admiration they have for these people whom they haven't seen in a year.  It is clear that somehow, instinctually, they love these people.

This is something I missed out on as a child.  We didn't have reunions.  My grandparents had all passed on by the time I was born.  I only had one aunt and uncle on my dad's side.  We got together with them every so often, but there was little connection there.  My mom was an only child, so there were no connections there.

I have appreciated the initiative my older siblings have taken to get the reunion thing started for our kids.  They started small--a family gathering for a picnic in a park when my brother's family was in town one year.  From there, it has blossomed, and every year it gets better.  As soon as it's over, my kids count down to the next July.

Because my mom was an only child and her mom passed away when she was so young, family connections have been severed.  Through exploring family history and putting some of it on the web, I have now made connections with a number of the Stegner (my mom's) side of the family, but last night I had a long-lost cousin experience.

I think it's strange that I'd choose to post about Esther (my last post) when I did.  I'm not sure what caused me to write about her, but yesterday, via, I received an email from a Holz cousin.  Esther was a Holz.  I have her piano (as I mentioned before) and a chest that the Holz family brought over to the U.S. from Germany.  I have a love for them that I can't explain.  The day my mom passed away, I went through the things on her desk.  Among them was one family history book--the Holz book.  It was, most likely, the last family she had researched.  The Holz family has been very hard to find.  Of all the research books she kept, the Holz book is by far the smallest.

I went to Ancestry and found a message from a woman named Jennifer.  She tole me that she is the great-granddaughter of Esther's eldest brother, Harry.  I responded and asked her to come to the Esther blog post.

We corresponded about three times yesterday.  I gave her my phone number, and at 9:59 last evening, she responded with hers.  I read her message to Z and he persuaded me to call her.  It was 10:15pm.  I told him there was no way I could do that, but he said, "She just wrote you.  She's up.  Call her!"  So, I did.  You can do that with family, right?

It was a cousin experience just like my children have at the family reunions.  She accepted my call with an enthusiastic voice.  We chatted for a little more than an hour.  The conversation was non-stop.  It was as if we'd always known each other.

She, like me, has a lost family link.  Her grandmother, Harry's daughter, had also died at a young age, leaving Jenn's mother when she was nine.  Jenn, like me, is wanting to fill in that gap and regather her family.  She said that she had heard the names Hamm and Stegner from her mom, but they didn't know who that was--that was my mom, so I know my mom had made contact at some point in the past.  What else would I expect--that was my mom.

As we talked, I scanned a few photos for Jenn--her great-grandfather as a child with his younger brother and the Holz children with two cousins.

During that one hour, I learned more about the Holz family than I had known before.  I learned that my great-grandparents who always had someone living with them, raised my great-grandfather brother's two children after their parents had died of tuberculosis.  I learned that those children had lost both of their parents on the same day.  I learned that the baby who so hauntingly resembles my children, the baby "sleeping" so peacefully in the casket, was the child of this same family, who died at five months old from whooping cough.

Suddenly holes in this family history are being filled in.  So now, my next task--scanning the photos.  I figure if I do about five a day, there will be discs ready for the family well before Christmas.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...