“Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.” 

― Michele Huey

Today, I’m beginning my broad family history research. It’s going to take awhile and will be tricky.

As I sit down to put my notes together, I feel like a little kid sitting in front of a 1000 piece puzzle box knowing at least half of the important pieces are missing.

I guess that’s what makes a story a story–making the best of the details available–pulling what you have together and sharing your memories as a way to pass on lessons learned along the way.

My Grandpa Burton is pictured in my story today along with the only photo i have of one of our visits to Grandpa Burton’s. Unfortunately, I have very few memories of him or dad’s family. When we were young, we rarely visited and no one visited us.

The trips to Grandpa Burton’s house seemed to be last minute, discussed in whispers, and lasted only a few hours. The trip to the little town of Paton was short by today’s standards but lasted forever. The conversations were hushed, often held a sharp edge, but were mostly nonexistent. The silence seemed to wind the three of us up, opening space for our continued questions of how many more miles is it or how many more minutes until we are there.

As the miles trudged by, the level of tension increased. Finally, we pulled up in front of the house. With all the pent up energy we’d been holding in, we raced to the door to be greeted and fussed over by our aunt. I remember being uncomfortable with all the attention she gave us because I really did not know her. She was so different from my mom’s sister, Charlotte. As I looked around the entry way I noticed my grandpa and uncle remained seated in their chairs. Mom greeted everyone warmly but seemed to hover close to us. My dad walked in slowly nodding his head as a greeting. As I think back I hear him clear his throat while his hands are in his pockets, rattling his keys and change. It was a sound I’d come to know very well.

My sisters and I were young but each picked up on the strain in our own way. The body language displayed at this gathering began my lessons in picking up subtle and not so subtle clues–it became the foundation for my childhood of hyperawareness.

I became the watcher and the worrier–the child began her withdrawl in order to stay safe from the unknown.


“In our family histories, the frontier between fact and fiction is vague, especially in the record of events that took place before we were born, or when we were too young to record them accurately; there are few maps to these remote regions, and only the occasional sign to guide the explorer.” 

Adam Sisman

I am…

B…simply being. 



“I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

And their eyes were my eyes.

As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand, and all, up and down the line stretched from Time That Was, to Time That Is, and is not yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, had in the Image, fashioned in the Womb by the Will of God, the eternal Father.

I was one of them, they were of me, and in me, and I in all of them.” 

Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley

The watercolor, “The Duncombe Homestead,” is now in Texas.

This picture was commissioned by one of “the aunts” back in the 80’s. I’m not sure where it was before it was given to my sister, Sue. If I was totally honest, I’d have to say I really don’t remember seeing it before she brought it to me in Colorado. It must have been in Omaha at Aunt Marie’s. After Marie died the “Homestead” began its journey. First to Sue’s in Waterloo, then to our house in Colorado, back to Iowa after we sold our house, and now with me again, this time, in Texas.

It fills my heart having this little bit of history back in my home–providing a connection to my family and my past.

It is the simple things and I am thankful.

“Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.” 

Michele Huey

I am…

B…simply being…

Sending you all love.




Pieces of the Puzzle

A few years ago, one of the doctors I worked for told me his wife had video taped her Dad while he told family stories. What a great idea!

So many times, I wish I had made notes while I had such great family historians around me. I had heard the stories so many times, I never thought I would forget them.

I did.

The picture today is probably one of the first ones of my Mom. Unfortunately, this picture is a copy of copy–so the detail is poor, at best. My Mom is the infant in my Grandpa Jim’s arms. My Aunt Charlotte is squatting at Great Grandma Dora’s feet. I think this is taken at the McDonald homestead in Duncombe, Iowa.

The scattering of photos I have are like puzzle pieces I shuffle around in hopes of re-creating that one big family picture that pulls it all together. What I would give to have just a few scribbled note cards.

My lesson for today is an easy one–listen to those family stories carefully. Make notes so you have them as a reference. Or, make a video recording of the stories being told by the original storyteller. A good storyteller is a rare, precious gift–treasure them.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you and wish you peace.