2017 has brought trips to Raleigh (once for a genealogical conference), knee surgery, a retreat of Winsome Women at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, visits from our son and daughter, and a regathering of all of us for Thanksgiving. Dee continues to enjoy quilting, Ron explores families past and present, and we both remain involved in our church and community.
We pray God blesses each of your families with his love and peace!
For the first time in my life, we enter a new year without Dad. He was released to eternal life just a few weeks ago, yet it seems like we’re now in a different lifetime. As I’ve said many times, we are fortunate to have had Dad, and for so many years. To rephrase a line from The Reverend Mister Black, one of the songs we learned after my brother Eddie got his first guitar:
I hope that I’ll always be a credit to his memory, ’cause I want you to understand, Ed Springsteen Sr. was my old man!
Here are a few pictures and audio recordings from Dad’s memorial service.
I have split the audio recording of Dad’s service to make it more manageable for uploading and downloading. We had thought to refrain from calling people up to a microphone to encourage sharing, but you will hear that sharing benefitted from amplification.
I love this picture from Christmas last year, Dad’s last with us. Ed Springsteen Sr. passed over to Glory on December 8, 2016 leaving the limitations of Parkinson’s disease behind. At ninety-two years and eight days, he lived a good long life and left his craftsmanship in countless homes.
Even with Dad’s decline and departure we have been greatly blessed. Our son Joe was able to come for Dad’s memorial service and our daughter Jenny is here for the Christmas weekend. The full measure of joy in this season is found in celebrating the birth of God’s greatest Gift with our loved ones. As we gather with families and friends, enjoying holiday meals, activities and gifts, we can more deeply appreciate the reason for the season.
We didn’t travel extensively this year because we felt the need to stay close to home. We did take a short trip to Findlay, Ohio with Mom so she could visit a close cousin, Betty McCall. Betty’s daughters had connected with me through DNA testing from 23andMe. Mom thoroughly enjoyed meeting Betty and her gracious family. Mom and Betty, who were born the same year, shared memories of departed relatives, and we learned more about our ancestors John and Rachel Powell Dennis.
We hope you and yours are well. We wish you peace and hope in the new year.
We have many football fans among our family and friends, most more avid than I. This article will be out of the norm for Our Heritage but it’s fall, and it’s my blog, so we’ll take a brief look at American football and its intersection with family appreciation.
Mom becomes a football fan
My mother’s interest in sports used to be centered around baseball, from our little league teams to the Detroit Tigers. I picked up her interest in the Tigers in the summer of 1961, when I listened to game broadcasts on our family radio. That was a good season for the Tigers, but resulted in a not-uncommon second place finish behind the New York Yankees. I could still name the starting lineup of the ’61 Tigers by field position. First baseman Norm Cash led the American League with a .361 batting average, but the sporting world was focused on the home run derby between Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
I think Mom always liked football and basketball to some degree, but her interest in football rose to a whole new level when my nephew Jesse came up through the youth leagues to become the starting center for Central Montcalm High School. Mom is not a quiet sports fan when her grandchildren are on the field. Now she has joined the active ranks of ever-hopeful Lions fans as well as cheering for Michigan university teams.
Where did this topic come from?
Dee and I have subscribed to Guideposts Magazine for many years. The cover story for the September 2016 issue features Ben Utecht’s experience with gradual memory loss related to concussions from his career in the NFL. You can read the article here: https://www.guideposts.org/comfort-hope/former-nfl-star-ben-utecht-on-dealing-with-memory-loss. Ben recounts the impact on his career and on his family. The video about his song ‘You Will Always Be My Girls’ is touching and poignant.
This story has a personal intersection with my own family for more than one reason. We have good friends in North Carolina who are gradually losing a loved one to early-onset dementia. Several years ago we watched the slow decline of Dee’s mom’s memory and awareness in the waning years of her life. We lamented the loss of her gifts and abilities, yet she seemed to gain a contentment that I hadn’t seen in her days of conscious worry and concern over the challenges of life.
This story has another personal connection with our family from our years in Minnesota. Ben Utecht’s father was the associate pastor at our church. While Dee and I didn’t have any significant contact with little Benjamin, I think our son Joe did. Ben, of course, wouldn’t know any of us because he was still very young. His family moved on to other churches and we moved to North Carolina. Nevertheless, as they say, it’s a small world. As we pass by people in our lives, we never know when or where we might later encounter them. We should be more mindful of our friends and especially our family before we lose them. If we are fortunate, our paths might meet again.
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Yesterday I met some second cousins from my maternal grandmother’s Fisher family. As I get older, it seems that family reunions increasingly occur in connection with the passing of our elders. Mom’s cousin Merilyn Fisher departed this life on Monday, the 16th of November 2015. Merilyn’s father Hazen Fisher was my Grandma Sovereign’s oldest brother. Their family is shown in this picture before Grandma’s younger sister Marge was born. Waldo, on his mother’s lap, was born in November 1913 so this picture was probably taken in about 1914. My grandmother, Marie, would have been about five years old. Arthur and Hazen would have been about seven and nine.
Hazen’s children were Mom’s first cousins. Two daughters, Pat and Donna, are still alive and well. Hazen’s grandchildren are my second cousins.
If you’re scratching your head at this point, it’s probably because you were raised reckoning cousins the same way I was: my mother’s first cousins were my second cousins, and their children were my third cousins. That system works well enough when you’re used to it, but it gets confusing in a hurry when you’re accounting for various cousins of your grandparents and more distant ancestors. It also doesn’t give any hint of what generations these various cousins are in.
So what’s the alternative? The system understood by most genealogists requires some rethinking, but it is actually quite simple and clear:
The children of siblings are first cousins.
The children of first cousins are second cousins.
The children of second cousins are third cousins.
and so on.
Wait a minute. Then what is my mother’s first cousin Merilyn to me? She was my first cousin once removed, and I was her first cousin once removed.
Removed? What’s that all about? It (one, two, three, four times removed, and so on) tells how many generations apart we are. Mom and her first cousin are in the same generation. I am one generation removed from their generation.
Another way to figure out cousin relationships is to go back to your nearest common ancestors. The number of qualifiers (great and grand) you have in front of the word parents provides a clue. If you and a cousin share grandparents (one qualifier), you are first cousins. If you and your cousin share great-great-grandparents, you are third cousins. If your great-grandparents are your cousin’s great-great-great grandparents, you are second cousins two times (or twice) removed. The lowest number of qualifiers tells whether you are first, second, third or whatever cousins. The difference in the number of qualifiers tells how many generations apart you are.
For Hazen Fisher’s family and me, our nearest common ancestors were Hazen’s parents, Clyde and Idell Fisher. Merilyn Fisher’s daughters’ great-grandparents Clyde and Idell Fisher were also my great-grandparents, making Merilyn’s daughters and me second cousins.
My new-found second cousins, by the way, seemed to be a pretty nice lot. I’m glad some of us finally met. I look forward to getting to know this part of my extended family.