Family, a foundation of stories.
Both my Husband and I have grown up not knowing our fathers or their side of the family.
For me, it was hard growing up and knowing there were pieces of the puzzle missing of who and what makes me, me. I did not feel whole, which led to insecurities.
I tried to find my Father throughout my life but with no luck.
Finally, I did my DNA test through Ancestory.com in hopes to find my Father because my Brother had found he had an older brother through his father. I had no such luck. Not a single person showed up with my Father's last name. In my search, I was led to obituaries. My heart sank. I reached out to others but was led to more dead ends. I also did the health testing that Ancestory offered as well. I was in search for answers.
I then gifted my Husband a DNA test for Christmas. Once his results came in, a single person showed up with his father's last name. I messaged his Cousin which then led us to my Husband's Great Aunt. A connection was made and answers took place over the phone for him.
I then let it go into God's hands my searching for my Father. I trusted it was out of His love and protection even though I wanted the opportunity to fulfill one of the Ten Commandments of "Honor your Father and Mother".
"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
I have learned that His love is sufficient for me and is my foundation. In Him I have my story.
On June 9th I received a message through Ancestry from my Uncle. He found me through his DNA match. As soon as I saw his last name I cried and thought I was dreaming. I thanked God for this opportunity to finally have contact with my Father and his side of the family. I finally felt whole. All the puzzle pieces fitting perfectly and answering questions I have had for all these 42 years.
My Husband was the one telling everyone at church the good news because he knew how long I had been looking for my Father. I was then approached by many people who heard the news and told me to not waste my time in meeting him in person. My Husband and I were then gifted money to go and visit. We did not waste the time and made plans.
We planned a huge Family Trip of 2020. It took a month to plan out everything. Just the week before leaving my Step-Father had a stroke. He was in the hospital for two days, my Mom was with him. Then my Husband got notice that his Grandmother, who basically raised him up, was in the hospital because she had refused to eat anything. My Husband wanted to jump into the car to go see her but I had to stop him from making a wasted trip and had him call the hospital first. My suspensions were correct that because of the Covid they were only allowing one visitor per day and family had already visited her that day, and each person in the family had already scheduled their time to visit with her. My Husband and I were heartbroken that we were not going to get to see her. This was a great example and reason behind our push to go now and not later to visit everyone because time is short and we do not know how much time each of us has left on this earth.
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time..." Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone." James 4:14 NLT
We started our Family Trip in California at my Neices' birthday party as the kickoff, it was great fun getting to visit with family that lived so close by. Then we headed to Nevada to celebrate with Nana and Papa their 23rd wedding anniversary and visit with Great Grandma.
Our trip continued to Utah to visit my Husband's side of the family first since we found them first. We started with his Great Aunt of which we had the opportunity to look through pictures and learn the family history. We also found out that his Grandpa was still alive and so we had to make an unplanned stop to visit him when we got to Idaho. But first, while we were still in Utah, we met and celebrated my Husband's Cousin's (the Cousin that I messaged through Ancestory and got all this started) 49th wedding anniversary by having a celebration at one of their nine children's home. But first, this Cousin and his wonderful wife took us on a drive through the mountains. I got to see my first ever quaker aspens...they were beautiful. My Husband felt so very overwhelmed by the love and welcome to the family, the very big huge family he has. He learned of more family he has out there in this big old world. So many stories were shared. We loved every moment of it and wished we had more time. Even our Youngest Son opened up and fit right in talking his head off with everyone, which is not normal for him. We then got to visit our Eldest Son's beautiful Girlfriend while in Utah. Pictures really do not do her justice. She is beautiful inside and out. It was great getting to know her, where she worked (which has amazing food!) and I can't wait to visit with her again. They met each other in Hawaii when they both lived there for a short time.
We then headed on the long drive to our destination in Idaho. I got to meet on my Father's side my Aunt, his little sister. She is so beautiful! She showed me old pictures of my Father and gave me some to keep. It was great looking through all the memories and listening to her telling and sharing stories of each person. We then went to dinner. Sadly, after dinner, her significant other received a phone call that his son, who is only 34 years old, had a massive heart attack. It had pushed the reasoning even more for our trip. Regardless of this news, we had such a great time sightseeing and having a picnic at the lake that we have to come back to visit again but for a longer period of time. We then took a backtracked trip to visit my Husband's Grandfather on his father's side. We now know what my Husband will look like when he is older. It was pretty amazing to see the similarities. Sadly, we did not ever find my Husband's father...no one seems to know where he is located.
We then headed off to Oregon. My Husband is so fond of Oregon and talks about all the family summer vacation trips he took to the coast and how he wants to take me there because it is so beautiful. However, when we entered Oregon he was flabergasted and stated, "What! This is not Oregon!" I told him it is the other side of Oregon he has never been to. In reply, he said, "Well, I never want to see this side of Oregon again!" As we drove on, he kept hoping that over each ridge he would see trees. He was so very tired of seeing desert. He wanted to see "life". We got to my Cousin's home on my Mom's side of the family. I got to see her and my Great Aunt who I have not seen since I was very little. I loved hearing the stories and looking through pictures. It was great getting to see young pictures of my Grandma and my Mom. It is interesting how a person seems one way only in your mind and they never age. My Cousin got us hooked on putting puzzles together while we were there. She even gifted us the challenging ones to take home with us. We have to send her a picture once they are completed.
This is where I wish I had planned better. I would have loved to have spent more time with my Father, but sadly I did not calculate the travel time between where he lives (and the rest of his side of the family) and where we were staying. It was an hour and twenty-minute drive in one direction. Lessoned learned now, however it is still my one biggest regret of this whole trip, the time wasted in driving and not getting to use that time in visiting, bonding, and creating memories. He gives the best hugs...I am thankful that my wonderful Husband captured that moment, our first hug. One of the pictures now going on my wall. As well as the group photo that was taken of my Grandma, Grandpa, three Uncles, two Aunts, my Father, his Girlfriend, and his Dog. Plus many more were taken on the whole trip. My wonderful beautiful Grandmother gifted a binder to me of pictures and family history. I am forever grateful. My Father gifted me his Father's bible. It has my Grandfather's name on it. I cried. It is so special to me to see both my Grandfather's notes and my Father's notes written in the bible. I use it all the time now. My Father also loaned me my Grandmother's Father's diary. It is something that gets passed around at each family reunion they have. The next family reunion is scheduled for June 2021. I have been invited to come. My Daughter even agreed to come to it too.
We explored a tiny bit of Oregon and will need to come back to explore more. (If there is anything left after all the apocalyptic fires they had experienced after we left.) This trip has really stirred the travel bug in me and my Husband. I just want to sell everything and go now. I also want more time with our newfound family.
After the week in Oregon, which the time went by too quickly, we headed back to California to visit with my Mom and Step-Dad. We had a good visit with them hearing more stories and looking through picture albums and sharing the pictures we took on our trip with them. We also got to visit with a very good Friend.
After this, we really were worn out from visiting so many people. Overwhelmed. We headed home and tried to get back in the groove of routine and normal life. It was hard to do knowing we had to travel again to visit more family but for a Celebration of Life of my Husband's Grandmother. It ended up being a great trip to visit with my Husband's side of the family that we had not seen in a very long time. It was great sharing memories and catching up with each other.
I appreciate the opportunities God had blessed us with on this Family Trip of 2020. The love, the stories, the tears, the laughter, and everything in-between that we experienced from this trip and getting to know each family member more. Our life has multiplied tremendously with the love of family. I feel whole. I feel complete. I am thankful.
"Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him, (the foundation for your life). Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thanksgiving." Colossians 2:7 NLT (parenthesis is from CEV).