Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Hate Saying Goodbye

This post is all about feelings. Feelings that I've had since I was a very little girl, living on Cape Cod in my beautiful, old Victorian near the ocean. It was way back then when I was first becoming aware of the world outside of myself that I could feel a deep connection to people, even if we'd just met. I'd get all choked up when it was time to say goodbye.

I still remember standing outside one summer day giving hugs and kisses as a group of people was getting ready to leave from a visit. My heart hurt so much. And I barely knew them. I was shy and never talked to them or played with them. But I "knew" them. You know what I mean?

Well, yesterday our landlord came by for a visit. He's selling the house. We have to leave. Soon. We've been here almost a year. We've all made friends. But that's not unusual.

What's unusual is I've made deep connections with my husband's ancestors here in this town. I didn't know they were here when we chose this town to live in. But a lot of them are buried right down the road at Alvirne Memorial Chapel's Cemetery.

This beautiful stone church is within walking distance of my house in Hudson, NH.
Its cemetery is right behind it. The children love to walk its grounds checking out
their ancestors' headstones.

I'm not ready to say goodbye to them. I know they're not going anywhere. Right? But I think they like me hanging out on their old stomping grounds. I think they're going to miss me being right down the road. No, I don't believe they live in the cemetery. Maybe they'll come hang out on the Cape if we manage to get back there.

Visiting the town hall, the Historical Society, the museum in Nashua are all great places to find documents about their lives. But what I'll miss is them going with me. The feelings of their presence when I walk where they walked, or see what they saw are what I'll miss. The shared excitement as I finally put my hands on something that they touched once, too. They like that I'm curious about their lives. Doesn't everybody?

But I have to say goodbye, like it or not. And I'll remember them and how they made me feel like I'd come home. I came kicking and screaming. I leave with a heavy heart. It has been my privilege to be their "champion", to be their friend. And they've supported me in this crazy and sometimes lonely work of family history research where two worlds coexist.  Where you make friends that you can't bring home to dinner because no one else can see them.

They understood my passion.

They know I get it.

They know that I care.

They are happy to be remembered. It took over 200 years, but it happened! I just hope they know how much I love them, and how much they've enriched my life. I can't thank them enough for getting my family here, and for being so patient as I have so much to do that's not related to them.

I hope they know I'll keep working to find every family member and will put them in order with as accurate a story as I can create. Then I will have paid them back for all they've done for me this year.


  1. Betsy, it isn't easy to leave, but maybe you could find a place in the same town, and maybe cheaper. With a large family, it takes a lot of planning, and since you're a pro, I know you can do it. I'm not far away (Lowell, MA) and I'm sending best wishes your way.

  2. Thanks Barbara,
    We're trying to stay...we'll hope for the best. It's funny how it takes the possibility of moving away to make me see how much I love it here and why. One moment everything is ho hum. The next we're scrambling to right ourselves!

  3. Reminds me when I first saw my great grandfathers grave site. My grandmother was 6 or 7 when he was killed. This was 1905 and didn't know much about him. The cemetery was a big Jennings family cemetery on the Suwanee River in Florida.

    It's tucked away in the woods on the river and it was an incredible feeling to be in the midst of so much family history.

    Pretty neat indeed.

  4. Hi Bill!
    Thanks for sharing that! She was so little when her dad died. So sad! Funny, Halloween, graveyards, and scary movies all add to the creepy feelings we have about the dead. You're right, it is an "incredible feeling" to walk the grounds. Very peaceful. Some don't have the patience for it. And then there ARE the worries that you'll collapse the earth over a grave and fall in 6 feet. There's always THAT! HAHA! Even I would get spooked if that happened. Thanks for the visit Bill. Start you family history!!


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