I have been a member of Ancestry.com for many years, and absolutely love the discoveries I have found over the years. I had never really done much with the Member Connect part, until a couple of years ago, when I exchanged a message with another member about a common ancestor. We discovered that our great grandmothers were sisters through our paternal lineage. She lives in North Carolina, where our family roots run deep. We kept in touch here and there, and eventually friended each other on Facebook, and got to know each other better.
When she first saw my picture, her comment was, ‘You favor the Braffords’, our common ancestors. It took me by surprise when she said that, but it gave me a good feeling to know that someone I had never met could look at my picture and connect us with those simple words.
The story goes deeper, and this is what has endeared this cousin of mine to me for life.
In the spring of 2011, my husband and I received an opportunity to travel to North Carolina with my husband’s job. We were going to be near where my ailing uncle lived, and I hoped beyond hope that we would be able to somehow find a way to get closer than the 150 miles that separated our delivery point and his home, but that is not easily accomplished in a semi-truck. I also hoped to finally meet my newly found cousin, Virginia, as she had been wanting us to do. I racked my brain trying to find a way for us to get there, and when my last option of renting a car, fell through, I finally accepted that it wasn’t going to happen, and instead, made a phone call to my uncle. We chatted for a few minutes, although he was not up to much talking. He had been in and out of the hospital in recent days, and wasn’t feeling very well. So close, yet so far away.
In the meantime, Virginia was trying to figure out how she could come to where we were, but things were not falling into place for her either. It did not seem like it was meant to be for us to meet, this time. We made our delivery as planned and awaited our next assignment for a load. When word finally came through, incredibly, they were sending us to the very town near where my late grandparents were from, a town that lies halfway between my uncle’s house, and Virginia’s house. I let Virginia know that we were coming that way, and she told me she’d meet us at the truck stop near there. We were still going to be a half an hour from my uncle’s house, and still no car to go those last miles to his house, and with him being sick I did not want to impose on his family to come meet us. Again, frustration arose….so close, yet so far away.
We arrived at the truck stop, ready but nervous, to meet my cousin. She sounded so nice, but you never know how you’ll get along until you spend time together. Within minutes of arriving, we see her, and greet each other with big hugs. I could see our family resemblance right away, as I gazed into those eyes that looked so familiar. We started trying to decide where to go eat dinner, and in the course of just a few minutes, she assessed the situation, finding out that I was not able to go see my uncle, and offered to drive us up to his house. We protested, but she insisted, and within just a very short time of meeting this dear lady, we got into her pickup and started the drive to his home. Even funnier, us being total strangers to her, she happily gave my husband the keys and told him to drive up there, and she got in the back seat of her own pickup! The generosity of this woman is amazing, and her kind gesture will live with me forever. The evening was wonderful; me seeing relatives that I had not seen for many years, and Virginia meeting more cousins for the first time. That evening turned out to be the last time I would ever see my dear uncle, my dad’s youngest brother, and it never would have been possible without the kindness of this woman, made possible by connections we never would have dreamed possible in years past.
The story has another chapter, in the same place, although on a more somber day. In the spring of this year, we were again traveling through the area of North Carolina where they all live, a place dear to my heart. My uncle was by this time in the last days of his life, at home surrounded by his family. Not wanting to intrude on his family, we made arrangements to meet Virginia and her husband, Danny, at my late grandparents’ church, a beautiful little church at a country crossroads. We had breakfast at a nearby cafe, explored the church cemetery where my grandparents, great-grandmother, and other relatives of ours are buried, and even drove down the road to another cemetery close by where my paternal great-grandparents are buried. We talked family history, and life, and got to know each other a little more as we spent the morning together. Our visit together came to an end all too soon. As we were getting ready to leave, she handed us some delicious homemade pumpkin bread, a jar of her Grape Hull Preserves, and a few bottles of North Carolina muscadine and blueberry juices to take along with us, which we savored for days.
Once again, she made another difficult day much easier for us, and gave us good memories to replace the sad ones of that day. I received news that my uncle had passed away early the next morning.
All of this, because of one small connection which led me to discovering Virginia.