Journal Categories
Journal Tags
« Back to nature — our finds this week in the great outdoors | Main | A midsummer dream »

The Pacific Northwest: a flight, some pools, and a family reunion

I have this branch of the family—removed by a couple of generations—that has always been sort of a distant blip on the radar for me. Genealogy interests me greatly. I have boxes of this stuff—copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates, census pages, extremely old photos, etc.—that I painstakingly entered into a fancy computer program eons ago, before my own marriage and family rearing took a front seat, and the boxes of stuff went into the closet. It's still carefully stored, and on occasion I still access it to look up a date or to check a branch of the family tree. I love old stuff. I love the connection it gives us to our past. I love to gaze at old  pictures and take in all the details—not just the faces, but the background details that give away so much information about the world our ancestors lived in. Some of my most prized possessions are the photographs and letters from my maternal family line that have been entrusted to my keeping.

My Aunt Wendy, my dad's sister, is the ancestry researcher of my paternal family line. She has details going back at least seven generations. In the past she has spent hours with me going over records and letting me gaze at photos. All the information I have on my paternal side came from her, and I learned a great deal from her not only about the family, but also about research, record keeping, and the safe keeping of keepsakes. It is because of her that, about fifteen years ago, I knocked on a stranger's door outside of Grand Rapids to ask if we were related (we were, and that introduction lead to an exchange of Christmas cards for many years, but that's a different story). She ignited in me a great curiosity that, in addition to knocking on doors, took me into distant libraries in distant towns, chasing ever elusive details in newspaper clippings and census records.

But about the Pacific Northwest. I have this branch of the family out in Oregon, connected to me through my father's mother, that we almost never see. The line was originally from Wisconsin, and my grandmother stayed in the midwest when the majority of them moved to Oregon, beginning a physical separation that has lasted through the years. My father knew his maternal cousins only slightly, and I knew them, and their children, my second cousins, even less. Just one of them, who came to visit when I was little and became a penpal for quite some time, can I count amongst my regular friends. But I feel a great attachment to family, and because my parents understand this about me, this sentimentality and interest in ancestry, when this year's family reunion was planned, they made sure that we could go along.

My only disappointment about the trip was that Jon was unable to secure the time off to join us, but being able to bring Calvin out to meet that part of the family was wonderful. In particular it was special that he could meet my grandmother's brother, with whom we shared dinner on each of our evenings in Portland. And we got to spend all of Friday afternoon with my second cousin as well, and seeing Calvin connect with her eight year old daughter was heartwarming.

The reunion itself lasted for several hours on Saturday afternoon. Reconnecting with family I knew, and connecting with others for the first time, was very special for me. Seeing resemblances and recognizing inherited traits contrasted with differences that have grown greater in the years that the branches have lived separated by almost a whole country. Though I visited with many, I also spent a lot of time standing back and considering the connections, imagining for myself the times my dad has talked about spending with these cousins one summer when he was in high school. Or considering the fact of our shared distant past. It's an awesome consideration.

Calvin greatly enjoyed the pool.

It was also his first trip to the Pacific Northwest, his first time in the mountains there, and on top of one when we had lunch on top of Mount Hood. We also had a chance to visit our good friends in Seattle, and to have lunch at the market there before heading to the top of the Space Needle. The weather was phenomenal while were there, and the peaks were all visible except on our very last day, when were fortunate to have enough clouds to give us the perfect view of Mt. Ranier above the clouds on our flight out. It's one of my favorite memories from childhood trips to the area.

This has certainly been the summer for travel.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.