Due to my gracious cousin Patty, we are making a pilgrimage to Tennessee to see where our grandfather grew up and to understand the area that made him who he was. We are going to the Historical Society to see what we can find about our great grandmother. We have a cousin there who is going to show us where the Rhea land grant was so we can see where they lived. This is more exciting than I thought because I never believed I would have this opportunity.
There is so much that I want to know. Facts and records tell only part of the story. I want to walk on the land, take in the sights and hear the river. I want to walk in their footsteps.
We never went to Tennessee as children. Our parents (my dad and her dad) never took us to see where Grandpa was from. We didn't hear much about that side of the family and it was only when my parents went there in the 1980's that we had any pictures or ideas what it was like. We heard the stories that were passed down and it wasn't until recently that we were able to confirm them.
The thought of going there makes me weepy. How much richer could our lives have been if we knew that part of the family? My mother had a large family in Texas and we were there a lot. My dad's family was only his parents and two brothers. We spent time with our grandparents, cousins and two uncles but never with any of my grandma's or my grandpa's extended families. We knew they were out there but only as abstracts.
We have a short amount of time and lots of places to visit. I firmly believe that to write my great grandmother's story, I need to understand her surrounding. This is a gift that I am going to take full advantage of.