Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembering on Veterans Day & Restoring Memories

This past week, I have had the pleasure to restore several photo's of my family and several for a friend. I wish I could explain the feeling it gives me to restore a photograph of someone that is no longer with us. When I complete a photograph for someone It gives me a sence of being part of keeping their spirit alive and in the present.

I feel that our loved ones stay close to us even after death and in restoring a picture some how I play a part in keeping that spirit close. Maybe....It's knowing that that person or the memory that that picture brings to the forefront isn't forgotten.

I believe that my passion for doing genealogy and wanting to restore photos for people came from an experience my family had when my Uncle was recovered from Vietnam. I feel that I need to tell the story behind my interest in finding my family and my interest in photography and photo restoration so that people can understand why I do this.

I have an Uncle that died in Vietnam (May 10, 1967) before I was born, he was considered MIA, until 2005. I grew up hearing stoies of him from my mom and my aunt and always wondered if he was really gone. I had always had a sence that he was still around us. April 2004, I found the Vietnam Memorial Wall Page and saw where a friend had left a message. That message triggered me to start looking for other friends of his. I had no idea, until almost a year later that there was a team in Vietnam that same week that I made my first contact with his friend Frank Morrelli, that his remains and the remains of his comrades that died with him were being recovered. From the start of my first contact until I had information leaked to me that his remains had been found, I felt like my Uncle Mac was with me guiding me to find more information. When we found out that indeed his remains had been recovered, I knew that even though I did not know him in life, he was using me to prepare my family for his coming home. He and his comrades were laid to rest 38 years later on the anniversary of their deaths in Arlington National Cemetery.

This was the most awesome experience for me. I felt a part of my uncle's life, I was finding his friends and hearing stories of his life. I was part of keeping his spirit alive. I will never forget the people I met and the things I got to participate in because of my Uncle Mac. I made a scrapbook for him to remember him and carried the incomplete book with me to Washington, I had no idea how I was going to complete some of the pages for that album until a friend of his gave me a photo to complete a page and the pictures taken there helped to complete this book. Every picture told a story.

Take care of your pictures & Don't forget the stories!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Family History

I didn't know a lot of my family growing up, why? I still don't quite understand how my mom and dad's families grew so apart. I have heard stories from my dad about how close his whole family was growing up and how they grew apart after he moved to the small town I still live in. I can understand how distance can create barriers and make it difficult for families to be together, but it still bothers me that there were never any occasions that our families, his cousins and Aunts and Uncles, ever really got to know us kids. I remember meeting some of my Great Aunts and Uncles at funerals and a few brief visits at my Paw Paw's house, but nothing significant enough. This may sound terrible, but I wanted to go to funerals just so I could meet some of my family even though it wasn't a good time for that. I wanted to know who they were.
I am not sure that my mom's family were ever close. I know that growing up my mom and her brothers and sister moved a lot due to the fact my grandfather was an immigration officer, but I never heard many stories of them having a lot of real family fun together.
I guess that is why I do genealogy. It's like detective work trying to find out who they were, what they did, where they came from, etc...etc. I want to know them and I want the rest of the family to know and remember them. I am guilty of not spending enough time with my family and guilty of not seeking my living family members that I didn't know, out sooner, but I am trying. I have made several family connections just researching our family history and it has been so awesome. I found one of my dad's cousins that he had not spoken to in a long while, Claudine, she is awesome. And in the last couple of weeks heard from another cousin of my dad's, Shirley Ann. We have all been trading information and pictures. Both, Claudine and Shirley Ann had pictures of my great grandparents and other family that I had never seen. How awesome is that? The biggest disappointment I have had doing genealogy research is realizing that one of my grandmother's sisters had just passed away a few years ago. I didn't realize that she had any living siblings (very bad assumption on my part). My dad's mom died of breast cancer before I was born and I have heard lots of stories about her from my dad, my aunt, and a few other people that knew her. I feel personally cheated that I didn't get to know my grandmother at all, and to find out that she had a sister still alive until a few years ago, hurt me inside. I had a great aunt that I could have known and some how been close to my grandmother at the same time.
This is the point of my blog today.....Get to know your family, Don't wait until it's too late. Be a part of your family. It may not seem convenient at the moment, but you never know what wonderful memory may come out of that time together. Don't miss out!