Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day, Part 2

Memorial Day, Monday, 31 May 2010 – I hope you have taken the opportunity to learn more about Memorial Day this year – when it started, why it was inaugurated, why we celebrate Memorial Day. When we commemorate Memorial Day is now the last Monday in May, so that it makes a three-day weekend. That’s a modern accommodation; I think it is to keep workers happy, and to make the most of commercial opportunities. It was originally designated to be set aside as the 30th of May, and initiated shortly after the Civil War. In the South they had this tradition, and when the US president’s wife learned of it she recommended it to her husband. Pretty soon it was a national day of rememb’rance for those who fought for their nation’s principles, as they understood them.

I attended the program at the Southern Oregon War Memorial at Don Jones Park here in Central Point, Oregon, where I live. There was a banner about it across our main street. I noticed it on the way home yesterday. I am sure it had been there for a while, but just after I had been thinking, “I wonder if they are going to do that again this year?” I came upon the banner: 9:00 a.m. I am sorry I did not get there sooner, because when I arrived our local state representative, Dennis Richardson, was thanking the middle school band for the music they had been playing. He also was pleased that they were starting, not late, but maybe a little bit early, and that that said something about our community support for this sort of function.

The Southern Oregon War Memorial is only two years old, since its dedication. It is right next door to the Central Point I.O.O.F. Cemetery. There are a couple of Spanish American War veterans buried there. At the end of the Memorial Day program, Dennis Richardson challenged us as a community, that as evidenced by how the community turned to to make the war memorial a reality, that we could rally to participate in the upkeep of the cemetery. Caretaking of the cemetery went from the IOOF to a local attorney, who asked scouts and friends from the LDS church in Central Point to help with a service project for a major cleanup and then a couple of maintenance days. It is looking pretty good now. Just lately the City of Central Point has agreed to take it on.

US Representative Greg Walden spoke. US Senator Ron Wyden spoke. It was an inspiring program. Names were read of servicemen who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq from this area, and whose names will be added to the memorial. The national anthem was sung by two young people from Crater High School. The flag ceremony was conducted by Crater Lake Council Boy Scout Troop 109. It was very nice. They closed with an a capella rendition of Amazing Grace. The rain did hold off for the duration, as had been prayed for. :-)

When I got home I had a message on my answering machine inviting me to Anna Maria Creekside retirement community. This time last year I was doing my student internship for Rogue Community College at Anna Maria. The activity director invited me to come help sing Amazing Grace for their Memorial Day service. I was glad I had gotten home in time, and I went directly. For Veterans Day last year at Anna Maria we had interviewed the residents who would, who had served in the military, in war time and peace time, and who had served as civilians with the military or the merchant marine, or in the (European) resistance. We had some wonderful stories of camaraderie, sacrifice, and patriotism. To know you is to love you. Veterans generally do not toot their own horns. ‘Duty not toot-y. And support at home is usually not wont to ask for more than that their loved one return from war through God’s watchful care for all our servicemen. Service to a grateful nation is rendered from a sense of inner direction. If a minimum military service is compulsory, hopefully the little light bulb will come on in those who recognize the nobility of the call.

Today I have reflected upon the tradition of military service in my own family. The Purple Heart Society had a table at the war memorial today, with their leaflets and purple flowers. I took one. My father had a purple heart. Maybe my eldest brother has it now. Our father served as a French translator in the Korean conflict. His father went to Annapolis, and was head of the Supply Corps in the Navy when he retired from the Pentagon. My great grandfather was a Commodore in the Paymaster Corps in the Navy, After his retirement they moved to Annapolis when their second son was attending the Naval Academy, too. My great great grandfather, Ethan Crandall Ring – I have not found military service for. He was born in 1812. He had a son in the Army in the Civil War, and a son in the Navy. He served in the Massachusetts legislature. His father, Eleazer Ring, fought in the Revolutionary War, from Worthington and Chesterfield, Massachusetts. That’s my father’s direct line. My father’s brother was career Air Force, and his two sons were Air Force and Navy. Two of my father’s sister’s son’s were Air Force and Army. Two of my children were Air Force and Army. My husband was Navy and Army. They all had honorable service. I am thankful to them personally for their service to our freedom, to our country. XO and both usually have special deals on access to their military records for the national holidays. Watch for them. Many LDS family history centers also have a membership sponsored for those two services, among others. Your local library also may have an Library level subscription. Military records can tell you a lot.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Is Coming!

My father was in the cemetery business in Florida. Memorial Day meant Memorial Day in our family. There were big doings at the cemetery every year. It was an adult thing, but I knew what was going on. The minister spoke, the graves were decorated, and the flavor of patriotism was for service to a grateful nation. Surviving Veterans were honored, and they took part in honoring their fallen comrades in arms.

Years later, when I lived with my father’s mother in the Washington DC area, Memorial Day was a day for decorating the family graves. There was a time when my grandmother would attend the programs at Arlington National Cemetery, where her husband was buried – so many paces from Pershing’s grave. But I was glad to help her prepare and take flowers from her garden to her family graves in Maryland, the District and Virginia. She did the driving and directing; I did the walking and carrying. I knew these people from her stories, which I had been trying to get written down. We worked on marking pictures, untangling the family tree roots from memory, and tracking down cousins who also had interest in these ancestors. My grandmother lived to be 100, but the life of the dead had been a part of her life for a long time.

Her father died when she was 5, and her mother never remarried. Her mother died when she was 22, when Nana had been married just about a year. One of her sisters died two years after that, while Nana was in Santo Domingo where her husband was stationed with the Navy. Nana’s address book was full of the names of friends who had passed away. When you live so long, you survive a lot of people. Nana knew that death was inevitable, so she focused remembering the lives of her family and friends.

My mother also had a respect for remembering those she knew, whom her mother knew, who were gone. There is a special look someone gets in their eyes when they remember and speak of a loved one who has passed on. I can see my own mother’s eyes that way right now, speaking of her mother’s cousins with whom she corresponded on the family genealogy, whose letters she treasured, especially because they were not able to write letters any more.

I read an article in Readers Digest, and sent away for a bunch of their reprints – “How Will You Know If I Don’t Tell You?” The gist of the article, as I remember it, was that if we appreciate some kindness someone has shown, some goodness we have observed, if we have a kind word – we should not withhold it, because it could make a difference for them. It might help someone, but it won’t if we don’t say it. We all have regrets; that’s an inevitable part of life, too. There are, however, some regrets we can avoid by doing the right thing. What better way to remember someone who has passed away than to remember the sweet communion shared in acknowledging when we were there for each other. Do what you can to ease another’s burden or suffering while you can. Give what you can that will encourage or enable another to be of service. We are all in this together. Our chorus director says Ben Franklin said, “We must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately;” and from Ernest Hemmingway, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” We are in this together, and we could help each other more than we do.

My favorite family history stories are of love in action, Christian service, doing our duty, of taking time for each other. Do you keep a journal? A very large part of our life is of how we interact with our family and friends. Put down when you catch someone doing something nice. Yes, tell them Thank You for being a point of light if you feel to do so. You will find that when you commit to noticing, that you will notice this sort of thing more often. When you read your family history letters and diaries, those endearing incidents will stand out and bless your heart. These deeds are their memorials.

I ran a list in my genealogy program for my Nana – of the people in her extended family who died between the dates that she was alive. As I reviewed this list, sorted chronologically as she aged, I recalled her stories about when her grandparents, her in-laws, parents, her sisters passed…. Then on this timeline, first my father died, then others of her children and grandchildren…until she passed away after 100 years. A death in the family ranks pretty high on the Stressors list, and I learned from Nana that one way to deal with stressful situations is to do something about it. What a comfort it is to have friends and loved ones rally ‘round when a family member dies. Nana was ready to do what she could, from a call, a card, a meal, flowers, to being a friend in a time of need, and prayers, of course. She was following her dear mother’s example. Nettie went to stay and nurse aunts and cousins back to health; they sent for her because of her care giving skills. I only have family in my genealogy database, but being active in her church, I accompanied Nana on some of her errands of love. Nana recognized the truth that “Each Life That Touches Ours For Good, reflects thine own great mercy, Lord….”

When you go to write biographies of your family members, or when you are researching where your family has gone – consider what else was going on around that time. In historical perspective, were there epidemics? Were there economic situations that set things up so that extended families lived together to support each other? After a death in the family, did children or grandchildren go home to settle an estate? The people we are researching for our family history - were people after all, like unto us. :-D

If you still have unfinished business with some family members who have gone on, Memorial Day might be a good opportunity to write a letter, which you won’t mail, but which you need to write. Take a deep breath, open your heart, open your mind, and open your letter. You will feel better, and it will help you in your resolve to live your life without regrets.

LDS Hymns: “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good”
Text: Karen Lynn Davidson, b. 1943. © 1985 IRI
Music: A. Laurence Lyon, b. 1934. © 1985 IRI

Sunday, May 23, 2010


23 May 2010, Sunday – Well, tho’ the challenge was post to your blog every day in May, once a week is good for me :-) and It is supposed to relate to genealogy. I am not very active in genealogy right now. I serve on a shift in our local family history center from 10-2 the first and third Saturdays of each month, but I am not teaching a family history Sunday School class. I am in the Marriage and Family Relations Sunday School class myself. And I am not currently teaching genealogy and computers at the local senior center. My genealogy records are pretty much packed up in boxes.

I have other things going on in my life. I am in school at Rogue Community College, and the other big thing was that I had flunked the annual inspection at my apartment. So, though I had been trying to do homework, to the exclusion of housework, I had to take a break and do the other. With help from friends I have passed the inspection for this month. Now I have three more monthly inspections that I have to pass in a row before I am out of the woods. I am back to trying to do homework, because I have to do that, too, as that is my only visible means of support. I am looking forward to the end of the term. Summer Term doesn’t start until the 2nd week of July and financial aid won’t be disbursed until 2 weeks after that. Stress, stress.

I have wondered how in the world my ancestors made ends meet. I understand that the course of life is from one challenge to another, ups and downs; a life with no cha(lle)nges would be BOR-ING! I "understand" that. I long for a rest, where I can truly rest without regrets. I have a lot of regrets. Some concern not asking family history questions while family members were alive. That, hopefully, will lead us to Do It Now, while those at the most elderly ends of our family branches are still living, and to research cousins, descendants of collateral lines and find them while they are still living. I still cherish meeting my mother’s mother’s first cousin, who lived in Flint, Michigan, where we had moved to from Maryland for a job. Who’da thunk it? I scoured a Descendants of…genealogy book and found the last known addresses of…, and looked them up. This 1st cousin had met my grandmother, and they had lost touch with each other. Both my mother and my grandmother were gone by then, but it meant a lot to Hester Colvin to meet me and be remembered, and me, too. She had my great, great, great grandmother’s name, named after her grandmother.

Because my life is so full of a number of different things, other than genealogy right now, which I regret, I have just unsubscribed from a bunch of email newsletters and website change notifications. I really do recommend subscribing to some that make sense in your area of interest and research. If you regularly check in to some favorite sites to see if anyone has posted something of interest to you – look around, or even email the moderator or use the Contact Us link to see if there is an automatic service for notifying you of: responses to your posts, new additions to surname lists you are watching, regular newsletters from local historical societies, etc. There are some newsletters on genealogy research that will contain useful tips, too, that wouldn’t take long to peruse and then delete. Sometimes family history centers in the locales you have interest have an email list for a periodic newsletter; you never know – and some will publish queries for you! Take advantage of free services. They are not free if they can help you – they pay it forward, especially if you can help someone else :-)

How did our ancestors manage their time? TV was not such a big deal in generations passed, neither the internet as a time drain. There was always work and chores. I have been trying to keep a journal on a regular basis. I don’t write letters so much anymore. I do try to write thank you notes. I wish I had letters and journals from all my ancestors to get an insight as to how they ordered their priorities. Am I here because I happened to survive neglect? Or am I here on purpose from having my line of descent nurtured and encouraged? Is the human race going to survive in spite of our not understanding what’s important? Sad Commentary. What can I do to mindfully encourage my family to thrive and be happy? Is it too late? Can we still learn, even though the damage has been done? Do our ancestors have regrets? What do you do with your regrets after you die?

That’s why I journal. They say (“ “) that you do not learn while you are experiencing the experience, but later, when you reflect upon it. Journaling does that for me. Being in school and having to write essays does that for me. The plan is to have the experience, and react to it from where you’re at right then. Next (may be years later in some cases) you think about it and wonder what you might have done differently, and resolve to do it differently (better, or more how you would really like to have done it) if you are ever in a similar situation again. I think I have learned a lot about why I do what I do, have done what I have done, because of journaling. I wish I had my mother’s journals. I hope I will have them again someday.

What are regrets for? Beauty for Ashes. I hope I don’t make Christ regret he atoned for me by not appreciating his sacrifice.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


15 May 2010, Saturday – Today is my father’s mother’s birthday. She would be 110 years old; she lived to be 100  I have been thinking about her throughout the day. I took a few minutes to think about how I was remembering her, Nana RING, and I looked through my desk drawer and found several rings and put them all on, the ones that would fit, on the fingers they would fit on. I think I am like Nana in several respects. My life is in flux right now. There are a lot of things up in the air. The big thing I have especially been working over the past 2 weeks is to clean house. I have been doing more homework for school at the community college than I have been doing housework lately. Nana was ever working on her home, organizing, catching up with paperwork – it was an ongoing challenge. I was privileged to spend time living with Nana on several occasions in my adult life. She shared with me how she was trying to get things set up in her life, to run a smooth household, to keep up with things, how she managed her health (congestive heart failure), and preserving her family history (mostly in her head with stories ) We put down some of the stories, got some pictures marked, re-established contact with some cousins, and enjoyed caring about family together. Nana and Pa were married for 42 years and at that time they had 42 descendants. She said that she and Pa would pray for each of them by name every night. That touches my heart. I shared with her a poem, “I Said a Prayer for You Today,” and assured her that though she felt like there was a lot she could not go and do (go to Africa and be a missionary, like one of her grandsons), that her service in her prayer life was making a difference, and that we needed and appreciated that. I know that she still loves her family. I still love her.

In this major upheaval in getting my apartment ready for re-inspection (I flunked the first one) Nana has been in my mind and heart. It is a hard thing to go through your Stuff and get rid of things, pare down. I helped Nana do this with her household. It raised lots of stories, of course, and I was an interested listener. My cat, Blackie, listens patiently, but you’ll never get him to repeat the stories I have told him. I am taking a class at the community college this term: The Power of Your Journal. I thought I was taking it because I would be working with the elderly and their end of life issues, and it would be good for them. Ha! It has been good for me! I am handling these major changes in my life because I have a journal to be able to put down my thoughts and feelings, and to help me stay on track. I have recorded my goals, the objectives, why I want to do this makeover, and what I am looking forward to through it. I have also recorded some deep gratitude for help I have received. I am like Nana in this regard – always willing to serve and help others, but reluctant to ask for help from outside. Thank goodness when family does rally, and when friends graciously render needed service. I remember summers our family went from Florida to Washington, DC to help Nana & work on a bedroom, or the sleeping porch, or the garage, or the attic…. When you are behind the 8-ball and need help, you need help doing some things you cannot do for yourself. (‘Like our reliance upon the Savior.)

I love to sing. I had a solo in our college chorus programs this last week. Gospel songs are my favorite, and patriotic next; classical music and opera after that. I enjoy listening to our local NPR affiliate, Nana was a soprano, too, and she sang grand opera on the radio in the 1930’s. She was offered a 2nd principal part at the Met, but declined, and not too long after that made a personal commitment to just sing and perform sacred music. I feel like I am headed that way.
I love Nana, and I always will.

I was sharing some books with a friend yesterday and listened while she was looking them over. She said her own last name out loud - one of the contributing editors had the same last name. Whatever we are doing I think we naturally notice when we hear one of our family names. We also muse if we might be related. One of the taglines I have for my emails is the listing of the surnames in my pedigree - 31 of them - that on the level of my great-great-great-grandparents, minus one I don't know yet.

Ring Johnson Hibbard Jones Loomis Cousins Morton Wait Lewis Watkins Cushley Clark Wheeler Macatee Duncan Litzinger Ault Cross Ortman Baker Middleton Yarnell Blades Smith Schofield Wooley McVey Eubank Rohrer Ruble Ruse

I put those out there just in case someone notices one of their names and asks me about it. …Just in case! There’s always Serendipity :-)

Since taking this genealogy blogging challenge I have noticed how with most everything I do I can “work a genealogy angle” into it. I really do believe we all can feel a curiosity about our families, and that if that spark is kindled and encouraged it can be a blessing in anyone’s life. I help people learn to use computers, using family history and genealogy as the medium. Of course my ulterior motive is to enlist another researcher in the interest of genealogy – another point of light!

I Said A Prayer For You Today
by Frank J. Zamboni

I said a prayer for you today
And know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart
Although He spoke no word!

I didn't ask for wealth or fame
(I knew you wouldn't mind).
I asked him to send treasures
Of a far more lasting kind!

I asked that He be near you
At the start of each new day;
To grant you health and blessings
And friends to share your way!

I asked for happiness for you
In all things great and small.
But it was for His loving care
I prayed the most of all!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Aunt Betty's birthday - 8 May

I have been working at home - Spring Cleaning, getting stuff ready for a yard sale - a project for the American Cancer Society, and getting ready for an inspection for my apartment. Stuff Stuff Stuff! As I am doing all this, the things I slow down for & take time to read or Really make sure to put where they belong - is genealogy stuff. Clippings, correspondence, notes on slips of paper about family - genealogy clues. I know my family loves me - I especially feel their support as I am working on straightening up around here. (I have been doing more homework than housework and gotten myself in trouble.) I have a short list of things I am particularly keeping an eye out for, but I have been pleasantly surprised at some things that have turned up that I had forgotten were lost. That's a real danger (and tragedy) in genealogy research. In a family where children have died young, maybe lived their whole lives between the decennial census years - if you don't have a family Bible, or a family cemetery section, those children may be missed. If no one talked about them much after they were gone, they may be lost, and then forgotten that they were lost.
Today is my Aunt Betty's birthday. I remember visit her and her family when I was about 18. That visit was very important to me. Looking for lost stuff for kids was a neverending job. I realized I was a lot like her, and that was okay :-) Our families did not live near eachother: we in Florida, they in New Jersey. So I did not know her much, just from stories my parents, and grandmother told me. She was an amazing woman. I just Googled her name, which I have not done for a little while, and learned something new. There is a bench dedicated to her memory in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. That says a lot :-) Mother of the Year, ambulance driver, Girl Scout leader, whole bunch of stuff. I wish I knew her children better, but we have fallen out of touch :-( Maybe I will try to find them on the internet.
Happy Mother's Day! I hope you have a happy mother. I think my Aunt Betty was a happy mother :-D

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Feeling connected

I was sharing some books with a friend yesterday and listened while she was looking them over. She said her own last name out loud - one of the contributing editors had the same last name. Whatever we are doing I think we naturally notice when we hear one of our family names. We also muse if we might be related. One of the taglines I have for my emails is the listing of the surnames in my pedigree - 31 of them - that on the level of my great-great-great-grandparents, minus one I don't know yet.

Ring Johnson Hibbard Jones Loomis Cousins Morton Wait Lewis Watkins Cushley Clark Wheeler Macatee Duncan Litzinger Ault Cross Ortman Baker Middleton Yarnell Blades Smith Schofield Wooley McVey Eubank Rohrer Ruble Ruse

I put those out there just in case someone notices one of their names and asks me about it. …Just in case! There’s always Serendipity :-)

Since taking the month of May genealogy blogging challenge I have noticed how with most everything I do I can “work a genealogy angle” into it. I really do believe we all can feel a curiosity about our families, and that if that spark is kindled and encouraged it can be a blessing in anyone’s life. I help people learn to use computers, using family history and genealogy as the medium. Of course my ulterior motive is to enlist another researcher in the interest of genealogy – another point of light!

birthdays are part of our identity

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 - Today is my brother Glenn’s birthday. He’s 60. I don’t feel like he is 60, ha, ha. (Actually I don’t feel like it’s “right” that he’s 60 – that makes me…!) I remember when we were in college and the student demonstration at Kent State University ended up with the National Guard killing 4, on the 4th of May: KSU4! It is hard to have heavy things happen on your birthday. My heart goes out to my brother for that.

I love my brother. I admire him. He’s pretty amazing. I look up to him because he is his own person. I admire him because he surfs and plays music and sings, and he can think. I hope he still thinks. We are at opposite ends of the country & I don't get to talk with him much :-( I appreciate that he’s the eldest of the three of us, and I know that I don’t understand what he went through in our family dynamics, but I appreciate that he’s the big brother. I don’t know where I would be without him. I’m the youngest.

When researching my family history I look at birthdays, and what else is near their birthday & wonder how they related to those events. Maybe it’s projecting, but I think it may be a human condition to think about our place in the world, acknowledging that we are where we are, when we are. I keep a journal, and now this blog, and I wonder what my family members wondered about.


Sunday, May 02, 2010


I am posting twice today, because I forgot to do it yesterday, and I have committed to the Blog-Every-Day-in-May thing. I am trying it, notwithstanding everything else that is going on in my life right now!

I am downsizing. I have some friends who have moved into a 5th wheel, to economize and simplify their lives. I have another friend who got rid of half her stuff when she was getting ready to move to Oregon. She told me about something in Zen-practice - something about 137 things - that's all you need to have in a life - 137 things at one time. A pencil, 1, another pencil is 2! And so it goes - tradeoffs. I have been thinking about that - priorities is the key here?

Genealogy is a big priority for me. I have lots of genealogy notebooks in boxes here and there, and the genealogy on my computer, and what I have posted to the Web, and on it goes. I have a backup of my file on my flash drive, and I send a back up away from time to time to archive outside of My basket. I think better than that though would be to get published. I would like to get to a point that I felt like the important things had been completed to a point that they could be "officially" shared & then I could put away the paper files into a safe place, and maybe not feel like I still had to sit on the nest and protect them.

Genealogy is an important priority for me, but I have other priorities, too. (Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) If I could only have 137 things, one would be a particular notebook of my mother's with all my direct lines as far back as they went at that time, and another would be a back up of my PAF file on my flash drive. Beyond that? I am working on that list. Gotta keep your priorities straight....

Intercultural most anything

The class I am taking at Rogue Community College, Intercultural Communication, has been very interesting. For the Introduction to Intercultural Communication class at Elmhurst College in Illinois, they had a Family History assignment. Most of the folks in the class I am taking in Medford, Oregon, I think are taking it because they expect to work in situations where sensitivity and intercultural understanding would help. I dare say though that most families in the United States have many cultures and nationalities that have gone into their family history. Yes, researching family history is interesting, and can be addictive. It may be fattening, too, if you approach it through a cookbook and recipe project :-)

Intercultural Communication has many facets. There are Intercultural or Multicultural Festivals scheduled throughout the year, with various ethnic and religious holidays for the occaision. Music, dance, foods, costumes, customs - these are great first exposures - any excuse for a party, or to sell something - but if you have friends, or family who have cultures that are different than yours make time to learn about their culture. A person's culture is important to them, an important key to understanding them.

Family history is a great framework for learning about the cultural makeup of a person. Quick, interview your elders and find out what they remember about how they were raised, where they were raised, by whom they were raised! There are fascinating stories out there! Don't let them just become family myths. ("Someone somewhere said something about....") Put down those clues for further research as you record those interviews, and ask them about their family heirlooms. It is the stories that are the most precious. The other things are the props for the story telling. Have you learned to retell the stories yet for your children and grandchildren? No? I guess you need to go hear those stories Again! :-) Take a child with you to visit your elders. They will remember it. Who do you remember visiting?

There is a culture of generations. This is intercultural communication.