When I was a little boy, aunts and uncles would stop by McCloud or Dunsmuir to visit with their families. Other times, we would go to visit our relatives. In those days, I knew all my relatives. Every one of them. Today, it’s a little different. I’m in a place where I’m finding new hometowns, places where our family members were born, reared, lived, and died.
As I began my genealogical investigation, I learned new names and eventually new faces when I happened across old photos. In this age of Ancestry, com, Facebook, and the Internet in general, I am now in a position to uncover faces of my family from social media walls, detailed pixels, and delightful stories posted online.
The blessing is that after 28 years of never meeting anyone other than my children who have my facial characteristics and other genetic similarities, I get to see many, many people who populate my generational level of the tree as well as those in a five or six generation radius. I also get to expand my knowledge of my adopted family through this process as well. I have to say, it’s so much fun and brings me the highest level of joy! Sometimes, I chat with my cousins as though we grew up together, and then I have to remember, “Oh, wait! I’ve never met this person!”
In my familial dream, I would be able to invite all my cousins from every branch of my family to a giant picnic so that they could all meet one another and we could take a panoramic photo of all of us! I know it is unlikely, but in my brain and in my heart, our “family picnic” happens all the time.
I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to get to know my cousins through they triumphs, their tragedies, their humor, and their passions. It’s only on a screen for many of us, but it’s more than I ever imagined. This process truly is a dream come true for me!