Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Family history and poems.

I was cleaning out a box the other day for our garage sale... and ran across this poem that my great uncle. Rodney, wrote in 1914! He was 37 at the time.  I had seen it many many years ago, but of course, packed it away and forgot about it. (Scroll down where I typed out the words so you can read them better).

I'm so glad I found it! His words were meant for his sister, Effie. You can see his handwritten words in the lower right-hand corner. They say: "...to my dear sister, Effie. A true Roman - who knows how to fight life's battles and take trouble with a smile. Your loving brother, Jim." She was going through a rough time then, as she had a 9 year old son and her husband had abandoned her somewhere in California with her young son.

I never met my great aunt Effie... but this poem lets me see a little glimpse of what her and her brother's relationship must have been like.

And here are the words so you can better read them.... his poem is so relevant for today, even though written in 1914:

Cheer Up

We cannot, of course, all be handsome,
And it’s hard for us all to be good
We are sure now and then to be lonely,
And we don’t always do as we should.

To be patient is not always easy,
To be cheerful is much harder still
But at least we can always be pleasant
If we make up our mind that we will.

And it pays every time to be kindly,
Although you feel worried and blue
If you smile at the world and be cheerful,
The world will smile back at you.

So try to brace up and look pleasant,
No matter how low you are down
Good humor is always contagious,
But you banish your friends when you frown.

~ James R. Gooding~

Written for his sister, Effie Gooding, Dec. 1914.

Isn't family history intriguing? I only met my great uncle, James, when I was a little girl. I vaguely remember him.  My great aunt, Effie, lived in California until she died in 1918 of influenza at age 40. Her 12 year old son was then raised by my grandmother (my mom's mother) up in Portland, Oregon. I met that young son, as a grown-up, when I was a young girl in Portland, Oregon in the 50's.... he was in his 40's. I never knew until years later that he was actually my mom's cousin, raised by her own mother and that he was my 2nd cousin!   

Picture of James R. Gooding and his sister (my grandmother), Marion Hallam Gooding around 1951 or 1952 up by Mt. Hood, Oregon. I don't even have a picture of my great aunt Effie.... very sad.
Sometimes it takes years and years to discover our family history.... and its myriads of happiness, sadness, hard times and depths of emotions that our ancestors experienced. Unless you really delve in, and dig deep, you may never find out what really went on in their lives. 

PLEASE talk to your parents and relatives about your family history! Once they are gone,  you'll never know where your roots lie. You will never know what they experienced and what their lives were like. I'm thankful I talked to my aunt (my mother's sister) in depth, before she died, about their mother and her siblings, as I learned many facts that I never knew (including this one about my great aunt Effie and her son). 

And parents, aunts and uncles, PLEASE talk to your children, nieces and nephews, about your own heritage and what you remember... or better yet, make a recording or write it down.

It is only in the last few years, after my mom and dad died in 2001, that I've learned and discovered the details of my ancestors. Some are still living but I've never even met them! I wish families could remain living close, in the same town, or even in the same state. But I guess even in the 1800's, families were split up, when their relatives took off for the excitement of the unknown and headed west.

What have YOU discovered about your family heritage that you never knew?

And by the way..... I'm in the process of typing my own "diary" and history for my own son.

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  1. Isn't it wonderful to learn about our ancestors Marilyn? It sounds like your great aunt had a rough time of it. Of course, there are always sad things in each of our families history, but that's part of life and made us who we are. My cousin gathered as much history about our family as he could and wrote a short story about it called 'Two Brothers From Bari'. It's actually on my blog in the sidebar.

    Shortly after my daughter was born, I started keeping a diary of her life. I kept thinking I'd give it to her when she turned 18, but now that she's 29, I still haven't given it to her, and I don't think she even knows it exists. The only thing I know is someday she will read it, but the 'when' is not clear.

    You'll be glad you're doing what you're doing for your son. In the process, you'll learn a great deal, and I'm sure he will appreciate if.

  2. Yes our history is wonderfully fascinating! I've spent the last few years researching it... I've got names and dates of birth, etc., but am just now trying to find out more about the people themselves (like my great aunt Effie). I've been in touch with so many 2nd and 3rd cousins on my mom's side that I never knew existed. It's funny how our parents (maybe only mine!) were pretty closed mouthed about their family. I'll have to go to your blog and read about your family! Your daughter will so appreciate it and the story you are writing of her life, as will her children. My son is 36 and just now beginning to wonder about my side of the family. His dad and uncles are always telling stories about their side of his family, but he hasn't learned much of mine. I have a huge chart that one of these days I want to recopy on nice white posterboard... just another thing on my "to do" list!


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