How many times when a baby is born do we look at him or her and wonder who they look like. Do they have mom’s eyes and dad’s nose? Do they favor Uncle Bob or Grandpa Joe? Will they have red hair like great grandma?. Then as they grow we notice that they change and at times they look like one person or another.
What about when you see old family photos. We look for that connection too, as if it brings it all together for us. We take bits from different people and we stitch it together and put it to the mirror, to see ourselves looking back. Only for me, I do not know if I look like my mother’s paternal line. She was not raised with her father, she had very little contact with them and as she grew, she had even less. There were only a few photos she had of her father and less of her McMeekin grandparents and none of the earlier generations.
But as luck would have it……back in Feb I was on a business trip that just happened to be in a town that I had two cousins living close by. One cousin, Aimee, and I had never met before, we found each other about 4 yrs ago when she “googled” her father’s name (my Uncle) and saw some old posts I had made searching for him. (that is another story) and the other, Lane, who also found me in late 2009 through some posts I had made on our McMeekin family.
I had met Lane last summer when she came out here to visit her son and we were able to spend several hours together. I was showing her photos of my mother, whom she had never met and did not really know about. Her mother and my grandfather were brother & sister, only children of Howard & Edna Blaisdell McMeekin. Lane, her daughter Amanda and her new granddaughter came to have dinner with me my first night in AZ.
Amanda, Lane and myself…
They met me first at the hotel and Lane had brought along a photo album and some family heirlooms to share with me. The first was my great grandfather’s Masonic apron. News for me, my great grandfather Howard Grant McMeekin was a Mason! Who knew?
Then she handed me a little white jewel box and told me to open it. Inside was the mourning ring of my great great grandmother Helen Amanda Sampson Blaisdell, whose husband James had died in 1897. This ring had his hair woven into the ring itself. Lane looks at me and tells me that this should come to me as the family historian. I am shaking and in tears we hug. I have never seen anything from my Blaisdell or McMeekin family before. My mother was not raised with them in her life, other than some cards and letters now and then. She had nothing but a few photos of that part of her family. This gift overwhelmed me and I can say that the ring is safe and treasured and will be handed down the family line with sacred trust for each generation. This is a part of our heritage, a link to the past that should be treasured and protected as it was when Helen had it made in honor of her husband.
But the greatest gift was to come next. As we sat on the bed in the hotel room talking about Howard’s apron and this ring and relating how both of us were finding out new things about our family and how amazing this was, Lane had one more surprise for me. A photo album was uncovered and there was my family in color and black & white, faces of people I had researched for 25+ years and had never seen.
Lane found these photos after her mother passed away, just like the apron and ring. These treasures were not shared with others, but instead packed away in boxes and drawers. Sad.
The photos, oh my goodness these wonderful amazing photos! I was laughing and crying at the same time and the oohs and ahhs we were sharing as each page was turned. Looking at the faces and reading descriptions (where there were some) we were discovering generations of McMeekin’s.
Unfortunately there was only so much time to look at the photos. I managed to get 18 photos to the Kinkos to scan onto a disk and take back with me to share. There is so much more in that photo album and one day Lane and I will be able to sit down and go through it at leisure and talk about the stories we heard and I can share the research I have done and the faces of the past will once again come to life through new generations and will be remembered to the next.
Anna Jane Grant McMeekin (1855-1943) & James Reid McMeekin (1854-1944)
I never knew what my McMeekin great grandparents looked like. Neither did my mother. They look sweet. Wonder if they were.
James & Anna McMeekin, with son Howard Grant McMeekin Sr and infant son (my grandfather) Howard Grant Jr. (b.1914).
I was glad that Lane and I had met the first night, as I was able to share these photos and stories with our cousin Aimee the next night. Her father, Howard, was not raised with his father either and had very little knowledge of the McMeekin family. Howard passed away in Feb 2011, but at least his children can know more about the family and now that can include faces.
The next time you find a box that you forgot was there or are given treasures with the passing of a family member, please remember that even if you are not interested in these treasures, someone in your family is or will be. Treat them with respect and protect them for the future. You will be glad you did.