Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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You may wonder why I am making family history the theme of today’s self care post. Many of you know I am an avid fan of genealogy study. I have been involved since 2008 with ancestry.com. My parents were both dead when I began my quest. I am including this advice to you on self care because if your ancestors are still living you have an opportunity to excavate their memories before it is too late. The elders crave attention and are often neglected socially. Asking them questions about their youth and their ancestors is not only a great way to include them socially, but learn and grow in the process. Pictures, stories, and either video or audio interviews will become priceless tools for future generations. Once you know what your own family did in history, you have a much better sense of world events.
I was able to gather some photos and direct information form my uncle by marriage. His wife, my father’s sister, had left behind some old photos. His kids were adopted, so nobody really wanted the pictures. He gathered up some boxes and an overnight bag, and we hit the road in Kansas. I picked him and the photos up in Wichita at his apartment. We drove to Bartlesville, OK to spend the night at the Inn At Price Tower, in Frank Lloyd Wright’s only executed skyscraper. We rented a two story very swanky apartment with loads of copper furniture and accents. There is so much copper in the construction of the building, inside and out, that they cannot get wifi to work at all. We rode the tiny copper elevator up to the copper cocktail lounge for a drink. After dinner on the town we sat in our living room on the first floor of our suite to review the photos. He told stories about most of them, and I chose the ones I wanted to take. It was a fun time for both of us. After breakfast with a view we left the Tower before the tour of the gallery and building, which I am sure is excellent.
Uncle Paul and I were off next to Independence, KS, where my father was born. There was a library and courthouse in town with genealogical information. I found some good material, including my maternal great-grandmother’s entire probate file, which was at the courthouse. I chose the pages I wanted, and the clerk of the court made copies and mailed them to me for a small fee. I learned a lot from reading the entire file, but selected pages with important facts or handwriting of my great-grandmother. Uncle Paul and I visited Coffeyville, KS and the vicinity where my family had settled, right next to the Cherokee Nation. Since he had lived around there most of his life, my uncle had lots of stories to tell about the past. It was fascinating, even when it did not involve my direct ancestors. The Cherokee Strip, which is the name of this area on the border of Kansas and Oklahoma, was the wild wild west, and my ancestors were part of it.
After I dropped my uncle back in Wichita he was able to stay in his own apartment only a few months longer. His health deteriorated to the point that he needed constant care. His daughter is a nurse, lived nearby, and was able to handle his care with the best possible circumstances. She got a job as a supervisor at the facility where he lived. After he passed away she moved to Arkansas, where she was born and my grandparents both died. There was some kind of full circle there. I will always be happy I went on that adventure seeking my ancestors. You don’t need to take a road trip to interview somebody in your family. Pick up the phone and learn more about your heritage and history by asking your elders, before it is no longer possible. I wish I had done more of that.
The act of reaching out to your elders to learn about the history of your family can be healing as well as enlightening to all participants. I advise that you consider this because photos and stories will be lost forever if nobody collects them. Take care of family history to take care of yourself. You can do this on line with digital records, and if you are lucky you can also do it with living relatives. If you are super lucky you can go in person to the places your ancestors lived in the company of someone who knows a lot about the place.