My aunt, Dixie Richards is the middle sister of the younger three sisters of my mom, Collene Spencer. My grandparents, George and Hattie Byer had nine children. The first three were girls, the second three were two boys with my mom in the middle, and the youngest three were girls. It would have been almost like having three families, except that there wasn’t any significant distance between the sets of three. Even without big distances between the sets of three, there was a number of years between the oldest and the youngest of the kids. That could have made a sibling distance too.
I’m sure that with any big family, the older children are often married before the younger ones are born or at least before they are very old. That can make the memories seem a little distant for the younger children. Fortunately for my mom’s family, they were pretty close, so the sisters and brothers stayed close too. That gave all the cousins the opportunity to be close too. I know of cousins that barely know each other, but my cousins are close. We may not see each other every day or week, but we are all friends. We care about each other. That’s what families should be, I think.
That sort of closeness is how Aunt Dixie’s family is too. They spend lots of time together. When Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim had some health issues, the kids rallied around them to take care of them. When their girls, Jeannie Liegman and Raylynn Williams needed babysitters, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim watched the grandchildren. Their son Jim lives with them, which makes them feel good and safe. As people get older, it’s nice to have your kids near you, and it’s even nicer to have them want to help you. Of course, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim are there for their kids too, no matter what the need…physical or emotional. That is what family is all about, and Aunt Dixie has created a close family. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Funerals so often become a type of sad family reunion. Family and friends, who have drifted apart, now come together to say goodbye to a loved one or friend, and wish there had been a just a bit more time to reconnect, before the passing of their loved ones. Everyone lives a busy life, so time always seems to slip away, and before they know it, someone they cared about very much is gone. No one ever means to let the time between visits slip away, and yet I can name two grandfathers right now, who moved away from the state their parents lived in, and it ended up being the last time they saw their fathers alive. In those days, there were more situations in which the children moved away, never to see their family again. The distances were just too far to travel back and forth, like we do these days. Those parting goodbyes were much more sad, because they were real goodbyes.
When my great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer left Iowa with his family to move to Wisconsin, he had no idea that it would be the last time he saw his dad, Allen Spencer. Obviously, anytime we leave a person’s presence, it could be the last time we see them, but it is far less common when living in the same town than living several states away.
It looks to me like my great grandmother my great grandmother, Henriette Hensel, went back to Germany only once after she immigrated to America with her sister and her brother-in-law. Her husband, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher went back to visit, but taking the entire family again would have been quite costly, so he went alone. I’m sure they were very happy to see him and hear about their life, but it was nevertheless, most likely the last time. I’m sure my great grandmother was sorry she couldn’t go, but by then she has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and travel was difficult.
Even in this day and age, of easy travel, a move far away could prove to be the last time a family gets to see the departing loved one, but thankfully with things like the telephone, Skype, FaceTime, email, and Facebook, staying connected isn’t as difficult as it used to be. It doesn’t replace the reunions, because one on one time spent with loved ones is so important, but it is better than the way things used to be. Somehow, a letter from home is not quite the same as being able to see them in person, or at least via Skype or FaceTime.