Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Family Connections

on June 8, 2015

Family to me is an indefinable, inextinguishable feeling. It can be brought on by rummaging through old letters as I did recently. I found a note of congratulation for a long-ago milestone event from an uncle whom I loved as part of the family but don’t remember ever having a conversation with. I cherish the idea that he had thought of me. When I visited my son and his family a few weeks ago on the occasion of my grand daughter’s tenth birthday a similar epiphany occurred.

On the maternal side of my family my mother’s wedding veil became a family tradition. She wore it in 1927. Since then my two sisters and I, four cousins and my sister’s daughter have worn it. My daughter-in-law, the one I was visiting, is the first bride not descended from my mother to wear her veil. For years pictures of us cousins wearing the veil hung on the wall of my aunt’s staircase. I always said I wanted them when she died – and she remembered. They were with me for twenty years when I lived in a townhouse that had stairs for “the brides”. Now all nine of us hang in the mini-hallway of my small apartment. One sad note to my story is there is no picture of my mother wearing her veil.

There is another generation of brides descended from a cousin whose daughter and granddaughters have also worn my mother’s veil. Another set of pictures grace walls of their homes. My first cousin once removed (to be old-fashioned and proper) is making an album combining both sets of pictures. She asked all of us brides to send her a copy of our wedding photos. My daughter-in-law was in the midst of a stressful project at work and forgot to send hers. I volunteered to help her locate a photo while I was at her house visiting. Our going through her box of wedding memorabilia was a real moment of family bonding. Her mother, who died a few years ago, had created a wonderful book of wedding events which I took part in but had little memory of. Now we had fun reliving that remarkable wedding, including my son’s entrance accompanied by bagpipes. My mother’s veil trails behind many memories.

The day I mailed my daughter-in-law’s photo one of those serendipitous things happened that surely can’t be a coincidence. I discovered an object that connects my paternal family. In 1883 my grandfather started a small business making custom shirts which is still in existence and still run by descendants of his brother, a founding partner. A woman who is interested in the history of small family businesses has contacted cousins on my father’s side of the family for information. She was interested in any shirts or other things we might have collected and saved over the years. She emailed a picture of a shirt her husband had bought in 1974 showing the store’s label. I have a wooden coat hanger with the company’s name and address printed on it which has been in my family as long as I can remember. It’s probably seventy-five years old. I was excited to tell her about it. The woman replies to “all” in her emails and a cousin I haven’t seen since 1957 when he was ten years old picked up on my email. He replied that he had a coat hanger, too. He posted a picture of a coat hanger identical to mine except the placement of the company name and its address were reversed. A coat hanger is a humble object to connect a family, but it could be a seed of new growth in my family tree.

15 responses to “Family Connections

  1. As your header says, “You don’t know where you’re going…..” And look at what happened. What a wonderful family and extended family story.

  2. Family treasures and memorabilia passed down, nourished and shared from generation to generation honors that which came before us. Thank you for sharing yours.

  3. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks for your comment. I’m happy you liked my family story. ❤

  4. Silver Threading says:

    What a beautiful story of your family history. This made my day! Thank you. ❤

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks for your comment. It really made me happy to reconnect with my cousin over a coat hanger. Such are the sublime and ridiculous moments of being family. ❤

      • Silver Threading says:

        That is just great. I got a wonderful smile from that connection. ❤

  5. Luanne says:

    The history of retail and other small businesses fascinates me. I love the custom shirt story. And the veil story is so beautiful!

  6. Meredith says:

    Viv, I’m delving into my family history now too. I don’t have a beautiful story like yours. Thanks for sharing the story of the wedding veil.

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks for your comment. The veil story has been with me for years and means a lot ot me. I’m fond of the coat hanger story because it appeared out of the blue. I love the surprises that delving turn up.Enjoy yours.

  7. Karuna says:

    What a wonderful tradition. I love the idea of the pictures on the walls…….

  8. Inspiring! What an interesting symbol of the veil as a family heirloom. It’s almost as if this is a book by itself. Just maybe?

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