Family Matters (“Matters” is a verb.”) Part 1

This week I am doing something a bit different here on the blog – the first of a three-part series of what I shared with my grown sons and their families about how I was re-reminded a few years ago that Family Matters.

I am grateful for my sons and their families who love each other and us. It’s not that we all agree on everything, or we are our own little echo chamber. Not at all. We love and respect each other.

Please note:  “Grandpa” in this story is my dad, their grandfather.

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Family Matters

My Aunt Lois is our favorite and calls all of us cousins her “favorites.” She is Grandpa’s only surviving sibling, four years younger.  The two of them were inseparable coming ten years after the four older siblings. He dearly loved his nieces and nephews who dearly loved him in return. At the time of his death, there were also a few in-laws still living.

In 1952 he became the first missionary supported by his home church, Congregational Bible Church (Marietta, PA). From then on he rarely saw his Pennsylvania family and relatives more than once a year.

So it helps explain why your Great Aunt Lois, emailed me: “Dear Carol, “Would you consider having a Memorial service back here in Pennsylvania? So many people know your Dad. Even if they are not personally acquainted with him, they have heard of him from a parent or relative, I feel sure. Also, it would be a good time for our family and your mom’s family. Just an idea, my dear.   Aunt Lois”

How could I not consider her request? It wasn’t going to work for her to come to the memorial service here in Illinois.  Other relatives tried to make it work, but none of them were able to come either for Grandpa’s memorial service.

But, the more we thought about it, the more we knew this was a good idea. We needed to do this for them.

So there we were late June 2014, a month after Grandpa died, driving across Interstate 80 through the Allegheny Mountains the day before to a memorial service in PA. I sent this text to a few friends: “I am aware I am not emotionally connecting with this (memorial) event and I want to be in a place to genuinely receive love from my family members who will be there. Please pray for me.”

They did.

And I did.

Little did I  know how much I needed to do it for me.

We moved south to Dixie, Alabama from Pennsylvania,  in March of 1952, leaving our families behind when I was four years old. Here we are, probably all dressed up for church on a Sunday morning, a couple miles down the road, in front of our  four room house along the edge of the forest with spacious front and back porches.  (I wonder if the porches were as spacious I remember them.  The house has since fallen over and has been over-taken by the woods, I have been told.) Oh, and no indoor plumbing.  Queenie, our dog, was part of the family too. I can’t remember where we got her, but she moved to Illinois with us, 6 years later.

Yes, there is such a place as Dixie, Alabama. You may not find it on the map, but it’s there, 20.9 miles west of the square in Andalusia on Route 29/15, just 25 miles north of the Florida state line. The little church where he preached was open and having services when we visited this past April.

Your Grandpa and Grandma made sure we made that long trip from South Alabama to PA – often “driving straight through” to save money. Later they drove “back home” to Pennsylvania from Illinois and even from Montana, to see family at once a year.

And because of their commitment, I learned: Family matters. . . continued HERE