Good morning and what a weekend...Some of you may have tagged on the Friday to take the full Thursday through Friday off for the holiday. Or todayday will be the height of the week and then comes the wind down...if it hasn't stated already.
As I was sitting here sipping some Tazo Passion iced tea, I was thinking about vacations and get aways and one in particular came to mind. It was a trip that we were taking up in Wisconsin. It was my husband, both daugters and I. We decided that we would try to locate where my fathes family came from. I never really got to know my father or his family because my parents split when I was a young girl. I knew that my grandparents lived on a dairy farm...I have pictures of me about 2 and 3 years old. One I am holding hay and feeding the cows with. Another I am sitting in the kitchen of their farm house holding a chicken. I had a couple of pictures of my grandparens and a select few of my father...but that was all.
When you are small, it is a difficult enough of a challenge to not have both parents in your life and even more difficult when they won't talk about the other side at all...well, let me reprase that....they spoke terribly of my father.
Well, as time goes on, you sort of become used to not having that other side of the family in your life...at least for me. But the day finally came when the questions began to cloud my head. It was the day I became pregnant with my first daughter. I had a complicated pregnancy and there were all these medical questions that I had no answers to. Only one side of my life was available. It was like being half adopted.
Well, the only thing I remembered about my grandparents was the town they lived it. We found it on a map...this was way before GPS' came into existence. When we got to the town...my husband just looked at me and said..." ok genius...now what?" I said..."Let's find the Catholic church. They were Catholic...It's a small town...maybe they knew them"... We found the one Catholic Church in town, I went into this small red brick building and asked whether they might have recognized the name or perhaps could look it up in their registry. The small woman we spoke to knew exactly who I was speaking of. They were friends and yes, they indeed were parishioners there. I explained that I was there hoping to find my roots. The sweet lady went and got a pen and wrote directions that would take me to the farm that was once my grandparents and she also gave me directions to the cemetery in which they were buried. We went to the cemetery first. Luckily, this was a very small town, with a very small cemetery. Between the four of us, we were able to locate the graves. I had bought some flowers and placed it on the graves and asked for forgiveness. I explained how sorry I was that it took so long for me to come to see them. We took some videos of the cemetery and graves and bid farewell. We got back into our car and off we went on another journey...only now it was to find the farm. It was my heritage...I wanted my girls to see where we all came from. The woman's directions were impeccable and we easily found it. We pulled up and once again, I got that look from my husband..."Now What? Have you seen enough? I told him no...and got out of the car. He opened his window and called out to me to see where I was going? I told him..."To ring the doorbell!" He thought I was insane, but he knows me well enough. He knew that nothing stops me when I get a notion in my head. So up to the door I marched, rang the doorbell and within a minute the large green door slowly opened and there stood a gentleman farmer...about 50 years old or so. I immediately explained to him who I was and what I was doing there. As fate would have it...the man knew my grandparents personally. I asked if he would mind us just peeking around the farm. The gentleman called over his wife and introduced the two of and explained who I was. I waved over to the car for the family to come in. The couple gave us a tour of the house...My grandparents home. He told us stories about how my grandparents first came there and how the land was all rocks. They first lived in a sidecar from a train, and my grandfather would gather rocks and set them to a side to clear the land for planting like he did in Poland, but the more rocks he dug up, the more that seemed to surface. Eventually, it was obvious to my grandfather that farming was not going to be an option and that he would have to go with dairy farming. What a story...They eventually built the barn and then the house came after. Barns were always much more important since that is where the money comes from. He allowed us to walk the farm and the dairy barn. My children got to feed the cows just like I did when I was young, standing on the same ground owned by my grandparents. It was pretty funny, at one point my eldest daughter was feeding a cow and she got pretty close and his prickly tongue came out and gave her a big wet lick on the side of her face. What a gift we received. Not to mention a belly laugh. She was not pleased!
Now you would think that having all those moments to treasure was amazing, but there is more to the story. the next farm over lived my Grandmother's Brother Jack. He was still living with his wife and son over next door. We couldn't believe how fortunate we were. I thanked the man and woman and we got back into the car, drove down the road a piece to the next farm and once again, I got out, went to the door and rang the bell. When my Great Aunt Sylvia came to the door. There were all these hugs and kisses and she couldn't wait to tell my great Uncle Jack. Funny story they told us about him was his name was Aloysius, but the nuns in school didn't know how to spell it and so they just called him Jack and that name jut seemed to take. We spent the day touring the farm, We looked through family pictures and documents. It was a treasure hunt that had turned into the mother-load. I couldn't believe how a random trip turned out so well. We kept in touch for many years after that. I was sad to know that my Grandparents farm had been sold. Their farm and my Great uncles farms were the only two farms that backed up against the National Forest. It was a spectacular sight. Years, have gone by, everyone is gone now. But my the memory still lives on. A memory of who and what I am. the farming background that is in my DNA. Why I love to garden and dig in God's green earth. I have the videos and pictures that will be passed down through the generations. It was just so sad that vendetta's get in the way of family. That families can be town apart, that grandparents are cast away by the sins of their son. That I never got to know the fullness of their lives. But whether we met in person or In spirit. We are family...no matter what the circumstances, and I will carry their story on and pass it along as long as am here to do so.