I posted a brief note over on the LiveJournal that my great aunt Babe passed away Monday morning. But I locked it because not everyone in the family had heard yet. Not really knowing Babe, I have little to say about her. My main reaction is, damn, you had a good long life. She was born 14 July 1908 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Her family moved to Madison that September, and she lived in that city for the rest of her life. In fact, she lived in the same house for the rest of her life. She was a stylin’ single girl in the late 1920s and 1930s. She dated Bunny Berigan for a time. She worked as an office manager until the early 1970s when she retired. All of this is stuff I learned from reading her letters today or from family members.
So I came to Madison for the funeral. Not because I’m grieving for Aunt Babe. Because she’s the last of her generation in my family, I wanted to honor her life and to support the family members who were close to her. Babe, like her two sisters, never married. But she did a lot of the work raising her brother Glenn’s children after Glenn’s wife died. So his children and grandchildren were very close to her. I wanted to be present for them.
Another reason to come is that a number of those second cousins I haven’t previously met. Without Babe, I didn’t know if the disparate branches would continue to communicate. So I wanted to come to meet them and make friends. Present were my aunts Sue and Jane, her husband and my cousins Dave and Sarah. Them I know. My second cousins Katzi and Lisa came along with their mother. They’re from the Portland area, so I see them a few times a year too. I met Martha, Peter and Caroline for the first time. Those are Glenn’s children mentioned above. Peter’s sons Chris and Stephen came too. Chris I’ve met once, but Stephen was new to me. Another second cousin who came was Katherine. At this point, there’s only one second cousin in the Weiss family I haven’t met. I don’t know if we’ll stay in contact, but I didn’t establish contact, we certainly wouldn’t stay in contact.
Between my dad dying young, mom remarrying, and my grandfather getting divorced a few years before I was born, I don’t feel as connected to the family on my father’s side of the family as much, other than my first cousins from the Seattle area. With all the close family members who’ve died recently, I’ve been spurred to build those connections I haven’t had before. That’s a big reason why I’ve been so big into the genealogy since my grandparents died.
Anyhow, for the short term, mission accomplished.