I think I’ve mentioned before that Keith’s Dad was from Portland Maine and we came to Maine with him years ago (1996) and fell in love. Keith’s Dad, Bruce, was an only child but Keith had two “uncles” (I had to explain to him that they were his dad’s cousins, not his brothers). Keith kept in sporadic touch with his Uncle Carl and we’d seen him and his wife on one of our trips up here. The last couple years, we’d written and tried to see him but it didn’t work out and although Keith had written him before we came, we hadn’t had a response. We had his address and went by the house (there was no answer when Keith called) and a neighbor told us he was in a facility but only knew the town not the name. I looked up all the nursing homes/assisted living facilities and Keith called and found the one he’d been in but he was no longer there and they would’t give Keith any information. They did agree to contact the person responsible for him but we didn’t hear anything back so Keith made several more calls until finally yesterday we heard back, found out where Uncle Carl was and how he was doing. Today we went to visit and while he doesn’t remember us, I’m glad we were able to find him, to make sure he was Ok and now we have an address to write him and a contact person to keep up with how he’s doing.
We ran into the same thing a couple years ago with my Mom’s Aunt. She’d moved from the independent apartment where she was, didn’t have children and all the sudden, no one knew where she was. We made some calls to local nursing homes and found her, visited her while we were in North Carolina, and Mom made contact with a cousin who was looking out for her. Mom went home and made her a quilt and sent it which was nice because on our next visit to North Carolina, she had already died. I was so thankful we had searched for her and been able to visit her before she passed away. Like Keith’s uncle, I’m not sure she even recognized us or knew who we were but we knew and that was all that mattered.
I have such a large family that I don’t ever expect to fall between the cracks but it’s kind of scary to know that those distant family members who don’t have children or siblings can end up without help. This was also a good reminder to me to always make sure that I not only have the address and phone number of a family member but also have an additional contact, a friend, neighbor, or other family member so if they ever “disappear” I’ll have a way to find them. Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with distant family members but I realized that I have a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles not on Facebook and I don’t even know the last names of some of my cousins. For now, Mom still stays in touch and let’s us know how everyone is doing but at some point, she won’t be able to.
I know this is long and rambling but it’s so easy to lose touch and so hard to find people once that happens that I wanted to share my experiences and hope that we all do a better job of keeping in touch with those distant family members that we only see infrequently.
And one of my favorites of them with their grandchildren. Can you pick out my two?!