I am so glad to be beginning a new week. Last week was good, but so busy I hardly had time to breathe. My folks were in to visit and I took my dad to a reunion where he saw people he’d grown up with in Snowville (which has to be one of the most interesting old towns in Virginia), and later in the week we went to visit some other old friends of his where he could reminisce about things they had done when they were younger.
I never find such things boring. When I was a girl, we would come for vacations to visit my grandparents. And my sister and I were the oldest, so we got to sleep in the sofabed in the front room. I fell asleep listening to the adults sitting around talking. My grandmother, who seemed to know everything about everyone, would tell my dad who got married, who died, who had babies, etc. It was like a song, or a tapestry, these threads of my life, stories about people I’d never met, but who became a part of my life because they had been a part of my dad’s life.
When we moved here in 1987, I had five kids between newborn and ten. We could rarely find a babysitter for so many kids, and I was terribly lonely living so far from family and friends. Our county is still rural, with only one traffic light…and probably has more cattle than people. Few women were home during the day for me to chat with, so I looked for something interesting to do.
Shortly after our move, my aunt mentioned that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother came from Floyd County. That was news even to my father, who assumed since he’d always known the grandparents when they lived in Newbern, that his family roots were all in that neck of the woods. That started my geneaology search. I went to the library when I could, but usually the kids were too much to handle for me to do much research.
So I started “field” research. I would take the kids out in good weather on an “explore” down country roads until we found a cemetary. Then we’d get out and search for family surnames on the tombstones. It was good for the kids to get out and run around, and they couldn’t bother anyone…and it gave me time to chronicle family names and dates. Sometimes they would take sheets of paper and crayons so they could make rubbings of the fancy headstones with the ornate designs and interesting writing. The kids would sigh over the headstones of babies and children, and read interesting sayings they would come across.
I didn’t realize how much a part of our world those cemetery jaunts had become until we were on our way to Baltimore. As we drove toward Lexington on I-81, our youngest son Josh noticed a large church beside the highway. “Mom, look, a cemetery! We haven’t been to that one yet. Let’s stop!” He was about three at the time, and we couldn’t help but laugh that a toddler would get so excited about stopping at a cemetery!
More about the hunt for my roots later.