So I know this seems to be an odd day to ask this but…Why?
What got you started on this crazy train ? What or who inspired you to take up this cause and perhaps give your ancestors a little brush of the immortal ? We all know it isn’t easy, it is often quite thankless and frustrating. So why on earth do we kooky family history hounds chase the ever-dangling carrot?
I only need to look at this photo to know. It is my Grandmother with my Dad on her lap. Two pieces of the” oldest child of the oldest child” puzzle that have molded a big part of my life. I think she is timeless and beautiful. I remember her warmth and the tenacity that she loved us all with. I want my granddaughter (the oldest child of My oldest child) to know her as well. Today, my send off surprise for you is the beginning of my own family history journey. I want you to really truly begin writing Your story today.
I hope that by reading my “opening chapter” you will be inspired and driven to merrily come along. Thank you for writing November with me…now on to the task!
The Farmer Family Tree a Written Account
I’m a believer. I believe in God, Country, Ghosts, and Fairy Tales. And because of this, I also believe in the Never Ending Story of who we are, and who we will be in the years beyond.
I have also come to believe that most of the moments in our lives go floating by unnoticed and without consideration. Although no one could take an entire lifetime of thoughts and experiences and write them out or otherwise record them, in the following pages, I have attempted to preserve the “essence” of our beloved George and Margaret Farmer.
Writing this account of their lives and those around them wasn’t something I originally set out to do. I had heard tales for years of a written family history that Grandma Kate had been keeping for all of us. Before her passing, I nor any of my cousins had laid eyes on this dear Historian’s work. When she quietly passed away at age 94, Indiana was staring down the barrels of a looming ice storm. The skies were deep sullen gray and the forecast was ugly when the phone calls went out to all that Grandma had gone to her rest.
With the weather forecast getting more negative by the hour, we all gathered for Grandma’s wake at the local funeral parlor. Grandma was one of those dutiful women who always attended funerals of those who she knew. If the measure of one’s life was the number of attendees for one’s wake, my Grandma had clearly paid her dues. For most of the afternoon and evening the line of persons waiting to pay their last respects was “out- the -door” long. Mercifully the bad weather held respected Grandma’s mourners and held off until the line finally eased.
A side room off of the main hall was reserved for close family in attendance to rest for a few minutes and maybe have a cup of coffee or a danish. After a few hours, I found myself seated near the table with several aunts and cousins (half of my genes are from a very big and very old farm family). Seating on folding chairs under fluorescent kitchen lights the subject turned to Grandma’s “job” as the family historian. Some wondered aloud exactly what sorts of things she had kept track of all these years. I, among others, had heard we were “royal” way back when.
“I wonder whatever happened to all of that stuff ?” queried one cousin. Aunt Leslie licked the pastry filling off of her end finger and offered:
Oh I have that whole box. Your Grandma gave it to me to keep for you kids when she moved into the nursing home. If you all are interested, I can dig it out and make copies for whoever would want them.
Of course we all nodded, yes, yes we would love to have a copy of what Grandma had written. And then, as I recall, the conversation turned back to the horrible weather we were threatened by, our aching feet and who would be hosting Easter dinner in the spring.
Driving home with my husband and kids that night, we were all exhausted. A wake for someone like Grandma Farmer was an extra long event. We seemed to be related to all of Boone, and Hendricks Counties. Half of Marion and Morgan Counties were there as well. When we were nearly home the sleet began falling on the windshield. I didn’t notice so much. My husband is a seasoned snow and ice driver so I felt safe as we crawled along the interstate. Besides, I was too busy dreaming of the History book I would soon get to see. I imagined myself being delivered a dusty tome. It would be leather bound, over-sized, with hints of gilt work tooled into it and still visible. I would sit down in my (imaginary) winged back chair beside the roaring fireplace (also a figment) and gently pull back it’s weighty cover. A beam of glowing light would spring from within the pages and welcome me like a hug from across time. It would be a transforming moment. I would be in the presence of my Ancestors!
They would whisper to me which castle to go rightfully claim as mine!
I will cut to the chase for you here…several weeks later a large manilla envelope arrived half mauled by the postal service. I had nearly forgotten it was promised that evening. As promised, inside was the life’s work of Grandma the family history keeper. But it was not bound, gilded or illuminated. In fact the history was a smallish mess of papers, typed on onion skin paper, with carbon sheets between. It had been started about 50 years before and at some point the original had been photo copied onto thermal (the old style office printers with the roll paper and ink drums) paper, and then again onto standard paper stock by Aunt Leslie. The pages were in various states of quality, some had thermal marks from paper clips, or smears from being handled too much. There were handwritten notes and about kids born and added in and spouses marked through and replaced in margins galore.
It was a wreck.
And all it was beyond a wreck was a listing of names, dates and little else. I had to know more, and once I started researching and finding more…everyone kept looking at me and saying
Maybe someone should write that down….