I remembered my mom saying her parents were from North Carolina, but I didn’t remember hearing much else. My dad couldn’t remember her Aunt’s first name, but knew her last name was Brookshire.
Thanks to the power of the internet, that was all I needed to find the cemetery where my great Aunt Maggie was buried. It turned out that the Gashes Baptist Church and Cemetery was only 10 minutes from our hotel.
As we were busy looking for the grave, we stumbled upon a huge section marked with my mom’s maiden name, “Sales.”
What happened next was remarkable. We found both sets of my great grandparents and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was an emotional experience standing in the midst of my history that I knew little about.
I posted a few pictures on my personal Facebook page and a cousin replied she had always wanted to go there because she had heard the stories. I wrote back – “What stories? How come I don’t know these stories?”
My mom didn’t talk much about her family history, and you know what? I never asked. It reminded me of two key communication skills:
1) Make connections, and
2) Always ask questions.
I wish I had done more of both before my mom died, but I am learning from that experience.
I’ll be using this opportunity to track down some of my living relatives (there must be hundreds of them by now) and connect with them. It may even spark another trip down south.
Make time to connect and ask, and ask, and ask.