A Journey Back

Labor Day came and all our plans had fallen through. The weather was perfect for being outdoors and my husband had land, tree stand, etc going through his mind and mine was thinking a perfect day for a cemetery visit. So we agreed to each do “our thing”.

I had wanted to visit Zion Cemetery in Wayne Township for quite some time. My great grandfather’s first wife and two of my great grandfather & great grandmother’s children are buried there. This trip required me to travel through the area where I had grown up and I was surprised at the flood of memories and emotions that surfaced.

As I turned on Mayer Road I began remembering all the neighbors we had connections to…..Haffeles, Tiemans, Hartwigs, Fernstaedts, Lincicums. My brothers and I traveled many miles on our bikes to visit our school playmates on those farms. Around the corner on Highway D (176 when I was a kid) was the Blaisdell School. It’s now a home but amazingly it looks much the same as when I attended school there. I could see us sledding down the big hill once again, dodging the fence at the bottom or aiming for the culvert. Could we be fast enough to actually get the sled into the culvert? I remember the Lilac hideaway that for 20 minutes of recess would become a castle filled with princesses or we would have our dolls and play mommies…..always dreaming what are stories were going to be. But there were those ugh! memories, too. I was always the last one chosen for the baseball team. I had no talent whatsoever for sports! My most outstanding memory was the day President Kennedy was assassinated. As our parents came to pick us up that day the solemn faces and low talking amongst them told us something tragic had happened.

Up the road was the farm I grew up on……only it’s no longer a farm. In fact, there is not a single building left of the farm I grew up on. Even the house is gone. A new house and a large pole building filled the space of my memories. It is jarring to see a part of your story gone. But it has made me want to dig for those old photos of the farm so something of it can be preserved.

By the time I reached the cemetery my emotions were full. I found the stone of Emilia Heller and the two children, Elsie and Richard. An old tree stood guard over their stone. It loheller_stone_tree-weboked as old as the gravestone and as if it may not have many years left. I wondered if my great grandfather had planted that tree. What was their story? What memories of their homeland in Germany had they clung to? What sadness and regrets filled his heart at the loss of his wife within a month of arriving in America? And then losing two children after marrying my great grandmother. Their story is my story. I wish more of it was preserved. The day highlighted the fact that I need to make the time to preserve my story for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. How are you preserving your story? I’d love to hear how you are doing it.                         🙂  Ginny


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