Years ago, a friend and fellow researcher said, "there is a story teller for every generation."
This week, I was fortunate to receive some invaluable family history from a previous story teller, my great great Aunt, Rena Adams Blanco. Rena's sister Bertha saved her letters, mostly undated, but from the content they are from after their mother's death in 1955 until her death. When Bertha died, they of course went to Marilyn, her daughter. When Marilyn died, she made sure that they came to me.
I read through each of the letters, surprised at the treasure I held in my hands, words from someone written over 50 years ago. The letters contain information about her activities (canning mostly), her weight (a common thread for the two sisters), information about and gossip about family and friends. And in more than one the question, "have you heard from Claudus?".
That about brought tears to my eyes. For Claudus was my grandfather. Rena never did call him Ray. And over and over she asked her sister, have you heard from him, until finally, in a letter a few months before she died, she said he had called, and he was going to come and see her. Of course, he never did. She died before then. I was touched beyond words that his Aunt loved him that much.
I also learned something about Bonnie, her sister and my great grandmother. She said, probably about 1965, that she hadn't talked to her for 10-12 years. I know the approximate year because Bonnie did attend her mother's funeral. I also learned that when Rena learned her cancer had returned, and not long before she died, Bonnie came.
I learned that Rena kept in touch with her cousins, most especially, the children of her Uncle William Trahern. Over and over she talked about them, most especially her cousin Pete. I learned that she reached out to her mother's cousins, and they had a reunion at her Uncle Will's place. I think I even know that those who attended were Newtons, children of Catherine Trahern Newton.
Rena also filled out a book about the family. She listed her siblings, their wedding date (latest), their birth dates, her cousins, her Uncles and Aunts, and what she knew of her parents.
In her time, Rena was the person who reached out to the family. She was the keeper of it's past. And when she died, no one picked it up. So when Bonnie died in 1983, no one knew, they thought she had died long ago. Bertha kept her letters and her book, but no one kept in touch, until our cousin Loren Adams reached out to the family, and wrote a book on the Adams family for his grandfather, Rena's half brother Amos Adams.
It is Loren's book that is primarily responsible for the questions that led me on this journey.
I only hope that one day, someone will recall me as the story teller of my generation.