June 14, 2010
On this day I drove up to Downtown Disney to once again, meet a “stranger”. This is my place of choice to connect with people visiting the big O and WDW, etc. A little more than an hours drive for me, pleasant and familiar territory.
A relative I’d communicated with on Ancestry.com and myself arranged this meeting. This particular branch in my family tree has been of mystery as I have little information.
A lesson that has been slowly absorbed by myself, taught to me by my mother and her father (Grandpop), “You can learn more with your mouth closed and your ears open.” On the drive I vowed in my mind to adhere to this wise advice.
Arriving about 20 minutes ahead of meeting time left time to find the ladies room and apply lipstick. I knew as I approached the meeting spot that the people I was to meet were gathered together awaiting our introductions.
A feat in and of itself, my relative had gathered his entire immediate family together. Along with a wife, 3 children accompanied by spouses or significant other’s, along with the grandchildren of my relative gathered en mass. I was extremely impressed and in awe at his ability to coordinate such a large group of people for such an awkward and unusual occasion.
Feeling like an intruder they welcomed me into their family vacation time. I’ll admit that when plans changed for lunch due to the dynamics of such a large family, I felt a bit nervous. Following his car to their time-share I called my husband to let him know where I was going. I do try to be “city smart” when indulging myself in such events.
Upon arrival at the time-share his wife and daughter proceeded to go fetch a meal to serve the now group of 8 adults and 8 children. The efficient and timely collection of luncheon items and preparation was impressive. The meal that followed was appropriate and plentiful.
As a “guest” I was invited to fill my plate first. Next the situation deviated from what I would have known as my norm and all of the grandchildren were fed. Following the grandchildren were the adult children and their mother with the patriarch, my relative, preparing his plate of food last.
Gathered around a big table the conversation was light and spontaneous. Interjections by 3 year olds, adult children, and the eldest generation were interesting and not necessarily connected. I learned about things such as pre-K, haircuts, further education in nursing and a family business. As I interrogated the details of the business eyes began to roll, sighs of “oh here we go” were audibly interjected as the explanation began.
My relative’s wife began to explain her business. She told me she owns and operates a “shop”. Explaining to me in brief she disclosed the two sides of the business. One side of the business was a huge explanation for the abundant display of body piercing by everyone except my relative, a jewelry, clothing side and the other side of the business being "New Age" religion and the religion of Wicca. Apparently my immediate inquiry directed at my relative, “So you’re the only Catholic in your family?” was enough to signal my disinterest in the details beyond what had been disclosed to me thus far.
The family dispersed and I was left alone with my relative. We sat and talked about our common ancestors while sharing bits and pieces of our own lives past and present.
My relative’s sincere dedication to hard honest work and providence for his family was impressively apparent. As we talked I listened to him elaborate on his experience with ancestry research. All the while thinking that if this man was so passionate about this interest I had a lot to learn from him. Occurring to me as well was the thought that perhaps no one of his family quite shared his enthusiasm for this research. To indulge him in my time to listen to him was of benefit to me as well. I appreciated his time taken out of his family time to share with me.
Departing several hours later I was filled with new information along with my own thoughts. Sensing a feeling of “one day you’re not going to luck out on these adventures” I’ve allowed my older good sense to caution me as to my future meetings with strangers.
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