Saturday Stories: Finding Relatives

I had a slightly unusual childhood…maybe.  At least from what I have gathered from friends, it seems a bit different.  Because my father was a career military man, we moved far away from upstate New York where both of my parents grew up.  Every two or three years (or sometimes three times in one year), we would move to some place new.  As a result, I never put down any real roots.  When I was little, a move meant never seeing friends again.  I was not much of a pen pal until my teenage years and even then, I only wrote to a handful of people for a handful of years.  I have no history with my cousins.  Perhaps that is why I write this feature each week.  I have a deep rooted wish for family ties.

Fast forward a few decades to present time.  I haven’t been back to New York since 1990.  My husband and I were newly married and didn’t have kids, so we decided to meet my parents back there for a reunion.  I met cousins that I hadn’t seen in years and saw my great grand mother for the last time.  After that I started a communication with one of my first cousins.  It was a start (seeings I only have five 1st cousins, that’s 20%).

When I joined Facebook, albeit reluctantly, I thought I would initially use it to monitor my sons and keep in touch with current friends.  Then, I realized that I could look for old friends and family, the people that I hadn’t seen since I was little.  I found a second cousin that I lived near when I was nine.  He and I were really good friends back then, but his mother died during that time (she was my father’s first cousin) and I had moved away.  After connecting on Facebook, he and I were able to actually meet  and have lunch one day when I was visiting my in-laws in Seattle.  How cool was that?!

Then, I was doing some research on Ancestry.com and came across a family tree submitted by another second cousin on my father’s side.  It was a gal that I had only met a few times, but I found her on Facebook, too and have renewed a friendship with her, too.  So many of my  uncles and aunts only had one or two children, so there seems to be less family than there was a generation ago.  We are spread out across the United States.  A physical reunion seems pretty impossible, but through the internet, we are able to get together and keep the family bonds together.

I am not in anyway affiliated with Facebook, but it sure has opened doors that seemed nailed shut.  I am so glad to have found a few cousins, to be able to keep track of my brothers who are scattered around the Midwest and South, to be able to send pictures to my sisters-in-law on the West coast and even to chat with my husband when he is out of town on business (maybe that should have been first in this list).

Have any of you been able to reconnect with friends or loved ones because of the internet?

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