These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finding family

Since I began working on family genealogy, I'm thinking about extended family with whom I've lost touch. Some of them we (my sibs, parents, cousins and I) have tried to find, some we have, some we have not. One that my mother really wanted to find was her baby brother's widow and their children. My uncle died in 1972. He was young, just 54 years old. He had been battling cancer for several years, so it was expected. His family had made a rather lengthy trip around the country to visit family a while before he passed away. As I recall, it was around three years earlier. They came to visit us, my folks in my home town and Mom and Dad brought them to my house in Albuquerque. It was a nice visit, although he was very weak and tired.

Somehow after he passed on, we all lost contact with his family. I don't know why or how. My uncle was gone and his wife, of course, kept closer contact with her own family. I don't know if there were other reasons. I didn't have a sense of any problem between her and our family. I know my mom always spoke highly of her. The worst thing I heard her say is that my aunt and her family were different, coming from another part of the country (New York State), but she didn't say "different" as if it were bad. Just different. And Mom and my uncle were very close.

Through the years Mother had sent letters to old addresses and they were returned as they had moved. She occasionally heard about them living somewhere, would get an address, but it would be the wrong people. I remember her making a couple phone calls with the same result. In the 1990s, I tried to help her via the internet, but there wasn't as much of a "net" then or I wasn't as adept, and I had the same result. There were always too many by those names to be sure, and when we called or wrote, it was not the right ones. Mom finally decided my aunt must have remarried and had a different name.

Then my mom and dad died in 2000. I didn't even think about it for a while. When I did later on, my efforts were half-hearted, in part because Mom was gone and in part because my own life was in chaos with my husband's health and other issues. Then recently I've been thinking about that family again.

Today I spent a couple house online, googling the names of my aunt and cousins, then wading through scads of internet references to those and similar names. I found a number of references that I was pretty sure was one of the cousins, and yet every reference lead to basically a dead end. I could find no website or address that made sense. I retraced my steps, and perhaps I entered something differently, but all the sudden I was finding some references that made some sense. I found what I thought to be addresses for the two younger of the cousins, but I wasn't finding anything current on the older one. He is just four years younger than I, and I knew him better and hoped to start with him in reconnecting. I found a drivers license in the Chicago area that expired in 2003, and I was pretty sure it was him. I found older ones that were expired, too, but I couldn't find anything newer.

In exasperation, I went back to the google list and clicked on another entry, and I knew I'd found my cousin! The age was right, the name, including his middle name (his mom's maiden name) was right, and then I realized that I was reading his obituary. He passed away in 2004, almost two years before my husband. Cancer. Damn.

However, the information in the obit gave me enough validation of details about his brothers and, wow, my aunt, who was alive at that time! I knew now what I'd found earlier on them was accurate!

Next I found a Facebook reference to the oldest surviving cousin, and I sent him a message. On a lark I put the youngest cousin's name in and came up with him on FB, as well, so sent him a message, too. I haven't heard back from either of them yet, but I'm hopeful.

This is a picture of me with the eldest of the cousins, not the one who passed away in 2004, but the first of four boys. He died of pneumonia only a couple years after this picture was taken. I was 2-3 and he was perhaps just over a year in this photo.

I really to hope I can reconnect with this family. I'd love to see my aunt again if she is still alive. She will be 90 this year.

I'd like to get to know my cousins. I'd like to find out from my aunt what has happened through the years and how we lost contact. And I'm thinking about some other cousins that I don't know about any longer. Most of them are older than I am, so there is the increasing chance that they are gone. But I guess it would be good to know. I'll have to check with my brothers and see if any of them know the whereabouts of the cousins their ages.

Our world has become to fast paced, people move about more than ever, and it is really easy to lose touch. I wonder how many of their cousins my kids stay in touch with. Since we stopped having family reunions, I know the contact is less. That's sad. When I was a small child, all but one aunt and two uncles lived within 100 miles of us. By the time I was in my twenties, my cousins and I were scattered all over the US. Time marches on, we all march with it, and the ties are stretched to breaking.

Are you close to your cousins? Do you know where all of them are?


  1. Connecting the dots in genealogy is such fun, particularly if you're connecting living people.

    Yes, I do know all my cousins well, on both sides of my family. That isn't saying a lot but I do. On my paternal side I have only one living cousin.

    On my maternal side I have seven. Not hard to keep up with.

  2. When my grandma and grandpa on my mom's side were living, we had huge family get-to-gethers. After they passed, no one really wanted to make the effort. Time moves on.

  3. Most of my cousins keep in contact through facebook or emails. I see some of them at least once a year because I am their tax preparer. We used to have annual family reunions, but now they are less frequent. Probably 75% still live in the area, the rest are in several other states.
    Question about your other post: Do you have a truck camper? I'm looking to get a RV and am checking out my options.

  4. How fun to be reconnecting with your family.

    You know the history with me and my cousins.....Having grown up just a few minutes from them and being so close with them I do miss them. I think cousins are the best thing and I will never forget all the good times I had with my cousins. (I even think the word cousins is a fun word)

  5. Teri, I do not have a camper.

  6. I've only kept in touch with one's on my mother's side. I've long since lost contact with my fathers side although I have looked for some of them. Still no luck but did find out that my father's sister died a few years back. She was amazing!
    It sounds like you're on the right track Lyn. Every time I think I get close, the website wants money to go further. Facebook hasn't panned out for me either. Good luck in your search! Love Di ♥

  7. It's a process, Di, and there is a definite learning curve. Yes, those sites definitely pop up often, but don't let that discourage you. Most of the time I learn a little by the time I hit that wall with the slot to insert your money. But notice what you have, usually a town or a state, then go back to the drawing board and try again. Here is part of a response to an email earlier from a friend who asked, "Do I just google the name?"

    "Yes, basically that's it. Sometimes I find things/people rather quickly; others it takes a lot of searching, reading the picks google give me to find it and even then, sometimes I find nothing. I've learned that occasionally, entering the name of a parent bring up an obit that helps; the name of a child may find a wedding write-up that gives me something. And even an unusual name sometimes give me several people with the same name. If you know the spouse's name, sometimes entering "John and Mary Smith" or Mary Jones and John smith" helps. Also, entering the name along with a place they lived or a school they attended or a workplace, anything connected helps to narrow it down. On the other hand, giving lots of information also can scatter the focus and I come up with stuff way off the target. You have to try various ways/things and just see what happens. It can be tedious, but it usually works..... Oh, another tip .... sometimes the school they went to, either college/university or high school will have an alumni page or something of the sort that give current or recent information."

    As I said in the post, finding one cousin's obit gave me the springboard to confirm information on the others. If you want more detail, email me and I'll fill in some more finite details of what I mean.


If you have something to say about it, just stick out your thumb, and I'll slow down so you can hop aboard! But hang on, 'cause I'm movin' on down the road!!! No time to waste!!!