Saturday, June 6, 2009

Be Careful Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane

Last week I was reminded to check out NewspaperArchive.com as I read a post by Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy. I'd looked at it in the past, but it's always good to go back and check later when more items have been added. To my delight (and amazement!) I found that many newspapers have been digitized and added from my hometown of Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas. I first searched for newspaper articles with ny reference to my maiden name, Margheim. I found a lot of them. When I found a newspaper report about a "suicide" in the family back in 1934, I was hooked on searching. What other juicy bits of my family's history could I discover?
Next I moved on to surnames in my mother's family, mainly the Flanders family, her parents. I quickly found the article pictured above titled: "Seventy five attend the Flanders family reunion". To you there's nothing striking about a family reunion attended in 1973 by 75 people. They happen all the time. But I was dumb-struck. And here's why.
When my twin brother and I were age 2 my mother left our family and her marriage to my Dad and moved to another part of Kansas. She remarried and had a family in Wichita, Kansas. Since she abandoned us, she didn't have legal custody of me and Dennis, and we visited her according to a court order, but only for days or weeks at a time until we were 12 years old. We were not allowed to visit her again until we entered college at age 17. During the following years, until her death in 1990, we had occassional visits, enjoyed some good times together, and spent valuable time with other members of her (our) family. But for reasons only I could speculate, she just never could get it right as far being in the"mother" role to me and Dennis. Consequently we didn't get very well acquainted with her extended family.
You might understand that Dennis and I always desperately wanted a close and loving realtionship with our mother. I particularly always felt a great need "to matter" to her. That need was never met. Disappointment visited me frequently as I'd hear of her visits to her family members in my hometown of Great Bend, or of her yearly visits to family graves in a cemetery only 2 blocks from my home when I was married and the mother of her oldest grandchild, and only grandson.
As I was reading this newspaper article this week which reported on the family reunion of her family, that childhood feeling of disappointment that I had become so accustomed to re-visited me. The reunion was held in a small town only a few miles from where I was residing. Probably held on a Sunday afternoon. In 1973 I'd been married only 2 years, had no children and had Sunday afternoons free. How I'd have loved to have been there...to even have been invited. I wasn't a genealogist in 1973 (nor 1983 or 1993!), but I was a Flanders descendant and these were my relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. I loved them all. I missed them all. I needed them all.
As I thought about this over the last few days, I realized that the fact that a reunion was held with that many people in attendance told me that FAMILY was of great importance to this Flanders bunch. The final paragraph of the article states that the afternoon was spent looking at photographs, visiting, and updating the family tree book. It was decided to meet again on the 2nd Sunday of July the following year. I wonder for how many years those reunions were held. I was never notified of them. Now that I'm doing genealogy, I'm wondering who ended up in possession of the Family Tree Book! I'm wondering where all those family photographs are in 2009?
As I've dealt with those feelings of loss and disappointment this week, I've also become aware of how natural it is that I've developed this passion for genealogy! The Flanders family has a long tradition of preserving their family history. Edith Flanders Dunbar wrote "The Flanders Family From Europe to America" back in 1934. And I knew my mother, Ruby Flanders Margheim Craine, well enough to know how she treasured her family's history and the relationships in her family (her ancestors more than her descendants obviously). How I wish I could have shared this interest, this passion, this blessing with her. But I'm grateful to at least have the newspaper clippings! I'll get over the disappointment again. I have too much in my life for which to be grateful. NewspaperArchive.com, for one! And Lorine Massey for reminding me to start searching again!

9 comments:

DianaR said...

Hi Becky ~
Your story today touched a chord with me. I feel it gave me a little bit of insight into my mother (even though I believe you are younger than me!) My mother's parents were divorced when she was 2 and she had no real relationship with her mother. Unfortunately her step mother did not really fill that place either. She worked so hard all her life to please her stepmother - I think because she wanted "to matter" to her as you said.

Thanks for writing this.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Becky, My heart went out to you as I read your post. I know how much of a void can be left and how much hurt can be felt when family members (especially a mother) don't seem to care. You wrote from your heart and I felt your pain.

You sound as if you have things fairly well figured out and perhaps one day you will be able to resolve your feelings completely. I know that with my mother's death in January I was left with many unresolved feelings and issues, which haunt me. My hope is that with time, those feelings will disappear. I hope for closure for you too.

I was quite startled to see my name at the end of your post but if my writing about NewspaperArchive was in some small way helpful to you then I'm very pleased.

Lorine

Cindy said...

Becky -
I had similar 'touchy' findings when I first ventured into the newspaper archives. Things that I didn't know had happened in the family and that had some potential hurt to my Mom and my Grandmother. Thanks for sharing your story, it's very personal and has touched me as well.

Dana Huff said...

In a fashion, I know how you feel. My father has been estranged from his family for years, and I feel cut off from them. It hurt to reach out to my grandmother about 10 years ago and receive a reply only to be ignored from that point onward, and it hurt also to find a cousin I never knew, establish a relationship, and then be dropped.

Becky Jamison said...

Oh the stories we all have to tell of the hurt caused by loving family and not always getting that love in return. Thank you, dear friends, for your kind words! In doing our genealogy we take the risk of opening wounds, but we also have the opportunity to grow in knowledge and understanding--and wisdom--about our families and all the individual persons and personalities in our web of family! I was blessed to meet with a good psychologist for 2 years in the mid 80s to work through my abandonment issues. But I can tell you all, blogging helps too! And having precious and dear friends who support, encourage and understand us is very strengthening too! Thank you all! I do know that I matter---to those who matter!!!!

Greta Koehl said...

I've been considering subscribing to NewspaperArchive.org; this is a good reminder to be ready for what I might find. It also makes me appreciate my cousins who have kept in touch with me, even though we are separate by miles and miles and reminds me that I need to keep up my correspondence. Thanks, Becky!

GrannyPam said...

Becky, this must have been very difficult for you to write, and I certainly touched me. My mother, who died 2 years ago today, had similar feelings about her mother. In 1931, Mom's dad died, and Mom was sent off to foster care. My mother lived into her 80's wondering why her mother had abandoned her, where her mother was, what she was doing and thinking. Nothing could satisfy her, it was certainly sad to see her struggle with the problem.

I finally did find her mother's grave, but not till Mom was gone. I hope she has her answers now.

I commend you for your confronting your emotions on this one, and for the wonderful person you are in spite of it all.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Good morning, Becky ~
You've written such a personal and touching post, I'm so glad I stopped by to read it. So many of us have similar things that we have to deal with, it's good to know that the ties that bind us together as friends can help heal those hurts.

I've written a little bit about my mother and her leaving us when we were little ~ thing is with her, she kept trying to come home, interfere, and then she was off again. I knew right where she was, she just didn't care to have her daughters with her then. She got older, and we got older, and things got better.

Thank you for pouring so much emotion into this article. It helps to know that you have dealt with the pain and understand her a bit more. Maybe one day some of those cousins or family members will find your blog and reach out to you. I know you will be the gracious lady you always are and take their hand.

Lori E said...

Becky I recently posted about blindly sending out letters to random family members trying to make contact for my client.
Have you tried to contact any of the people in this family? Need help? Let me know and we will work on it. Just remember that these things don't always turn out how we would like. But at least you will know that you have tried.