There are uncertainties in any big trip. For me, one of the biggest concerned our time in Bristol with my great-great-uncle Jerry and his wife Thelma.
Jerry is the younger brother of my great-grandma Becker. I first connected with him almost exactly 2 years ago as a result of my family tree research. He had used the best lawyers when it comes to immigration in Florida and moved his entire family there when I was just a small kid. While I was researching, I had found a lot of documents relating to his parents and their immigration to America when the joint family started to split.
We have been in touch semi-regularly by phone and online since then. The idea for our trip to Washington had its roots in a conversation I had with Jerry about how beautiful the leaves and trees were in Virginia in the fall, and what a scenic drive it would be.
Anyway, I can’t say enough how much the girls and I enjoyed our time with Uncle Jerry and Aunt Thelma. They were such amazingly hospitable hosts. We had a great time swapping stories and learning about their family and their times in Bristol.
Jerry took us to see Bristol’s new $14 million library, and we almost couldn’t pry the girls away. They had an amazing floor dedicated to kids. It had a few shelves of toys, a big open “house” area with windows and rocking chairs, and of course tons of books and videos and computers. It made our humble Ferguson Library pale in comparison. (The rocking chairs alone were enough to win me over)
He also took us to see Bristol’s old train station. It’s a much larger, fancier station than the depot in Ferguson, but like Ferguson’s, it has been converted into a sort of food venue. I gather it is used primarily for catering large events. Now that I think of it, it is very similar to the station we saw in Springfield, Ill.
On Sunday we went with Thelma to their church. It was a Catholic service, which was something new for the girls. They did pretty well overall, but Ludi eventually lost her composure and I had to take her out of the sanctuary for a while.
After church we had a nice afternoon lunch/dinner with two of Jerry’s children’s families: Jerry Jr. and Cyndi, as well as Joan and Dan and their kids Tori and Nick.
It was a lot of fun to meet all these far-flung relatives that we had previously known only through our Geni.com family tree community.
Also, we had some firsts during our stay. On the last day or two, Josie was stood up solo a number of times.
It was tough to leave on Monday morning. Thelma even made us a lunch to eat on the road. What wonderful people. We’ll never forget our time with them.