Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lunch With The Matriarchs

Today my cousin's daughter is heading back to her home in the Pacific Northwest so we all met for lunch.  I hadn't really thought about it much, but my sister, her mother, my cousin, and my sister in law I have become the matriarchs in our family.  My other sister is so busy with work and all we rarely get together outside of the Christmas party my brother and sister in law throw every year.  It is a sort of daunting task to be the repository of all things of interest (read the good parts) of our family history.  We each have a part we grew up with and know about.  I'm 10 years older than them, so I know some different things like what was going on before they were born and while they were toddlers.  And I remember the other little one who died.  She was born the same year they were to another cousin of mine, but so sadly she didn't live.  Her mother was heartbroken and I felt sorry for her, but really didn't know how to help her with the grief.  Well, this is a topic for another post.

The four of us had lunch and then pulled out the Scrabble game.  The restaurant was empty except for a few others after the lunch rush.  We are all avid players.  I can't get my husband or much of anyone else to play the game with me, though.  We played along until there was a challenge on a word and we would not allow my sister to play the word "mo", because it isn't a real word. At that point my cousin got her phone out and downloaded the Scrabble dictionary app.  It took a little while to download and we played on while it was doing so.  After some fiddling with it, she checked on another word and it was ok.  Then she checked the "mo" word and lo and behold it was a word in Scrabble.  Who woulda thunk.  We were like a bunch of old ladies playing mah jong or something in the old days, even though the youngest is twentysomethingish.  While we were playing I was thinking about what relationship my cousin's daughter would be to me.  It isn't as straightforward as some relationships.  My cousin's mother was raised by my grandmother so her grandmother was my aunt and my grandmother was her great grandmother. We simplify it by just being cousins.  This may be one for the family tree maker.

Speaking of the family tree maker I got on a roll New Year's day and found a "huge" number of my husband's ancestors.  Fortunately I'd talked to his parents about the family members they remembered before they began to not remember very much at all.  It was how I knew it was the right tree that had been posted and that made it so much easier.  Finding my maternal grandmother's family has proved to be a challenge.  I'd found her parents in one of the census rolls, but could not get any other information about her father.  On New Years I did find his draft card from WWI online.  It didn't tell me a whole lot and the writing could have been a lot clearer, but it was his I'm sure.  When I talked to my daughter she was all like "Well, how come I didn't know about this?" and "You should get a family tree made out." She didn't know, because she never expressed any interest in the genealogy I've been doing for years and the family tree when it is printed takes up many pages and would be sort of garish taped together and put on the wall.

I guess that is part of what being a matriarch is about.  We know stuff, but the younger ones have to ask.  Otherwise we don't know what to tell them or what they need or want to know.  So, if there is an aunt or a grandmother or mother in your life ask those questions and find out about your family.  You never know when the source of the information might no longer be available to ask.

The afternoon was such a pleasure with my beautiful second cousin twice removed and her mother and my sister.  All the women in my family are smart, strong, and good lookin' and the very definition of matriarch:

1.A woman who is the head of a family or tribe.

2.An older woman who is powerful within a family or organization.


  1. How often do questions come up and the only one who knew the answers is no longer with us? Like you said, eventually you become the keeper of the history. Write it down in case no one asks.

  2. I've got a LOT of it in the Family Tree Maker. There will be some that is lost, because I didn't ask enough questions. Sometimes it is a good thing for some of it to be lost forever. There are some of the blog posts that tell stories of long ago and far away. The one about my dad is one of them. I'll see about printing some out and putting them in a scrapbook.

    This is one that I like, too.

  3. I have a friend and a half sister really into genealogy. Both travel a lot reading courthouse and grave yard information.

    But I love the scrabble game. No one will play with me so I have lost my skills. My mother used to play with me.

  4. I love scrabble, too and the reason they won't play with you is that you are good and know more words and how to spell them.