August 7, 2005

A family reunion

Yesterday, Saturday, was quite an interesting day. Because of a woman from Texas whom I had never actually met, a bunch of my relatives and I now actually have seen each other. (Well, for a few of them, it was a reuniting, but I was too young to remember the last meeting.)

It all started one day two? three? years ago, when my mother and I were messing around on the Internet and she decided to search for her grandfather's name to see if we could find out anything about him (I think I had been extolling the virtues of Google...) Anyway, this woman in Texas had posted in a geneology forum about him, and we began emailing back and forth. It turned out that she was my mother's double first cousin, once removed (their grandmothers were sisters and their grandfathers were brothers. Got that? Good! Because it happens again, later!)

Time passed. We traded some geneology info. She decided to come and visit her relatives in the Northwest--she was here in 1985, too. Since she was coming, she encouraged all the branches decended from my great-grandfather to get together, and yesterday, up in Washougal, it happened. I was relieved to find out that I wasn't the only one who didn't know everybody there; there were quite a few who either hadn't seen people since at least last century, or who didn't know many of them from Adam. We fit right in.

I didn't get to talk to everybody; keeping track of Laura and Emily kept Matt and I from mingling extensively. I did, however, find myself saying to myself a couple times, "Wow, what neat people! I wish I was in that family. Oh, wait, I am!" The house it was held in was one that my grandfather had helped to build. Three of the people who stick in my mind were (without naming names!), a mechanical engineer--a female, who just "loves men" because they are easier to work with!, the missionary who had spent thirty years in Africa with his wife, and raised his kids there, and the young mother who sat and chatted about the joys and sorrows of same while we enjoyed Emily and her newness. There were lots of others there...somehow, until I sat down to sketch out a rough family tree the night before the reunion, I had never realized that my grandfather had EIGHT siblings, SIX of whom reproduced. Trust me, the descendants have kept busy that way, too. I would guess that not even a quarter of the various cousins were there, and it was a big, big party anyway.

I enjoyed myself way more than I thought I would. Usually, meeting a room full of strangers is not high on my list of fun things to do of a Saturday, but this was educational, entertaining, and a way to extend my root system. I do like knowing from where, and from whom, I come.

Oh, and in case you're wondering; two of my grandpa's sisters married brothers. So a bunch of my cousins are double first cousins to each other. I told you it would happen again! (from looking over the tree, it hasn't happened since that generation, though.)

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