ancestor hunts: weird is relative

tunage: gershwin: rhapsody in blue, etc. by andrew previn

my friends all think i’m morbid and slightly strange. there are probably lots of reasons for this, and several valid ones, but the reason i’m going to talk about really does nothing to prove either thought about me. if you look at it from my point of view, that is.

my family and i decorate the graves of our relatives on memorial day. and my friends think this is insanely weird. when my parents were growing up, though, that was how you showed respect to your parents or grandparents or whomever else if they were dead. you put flowers on their graves on decoration day. so, since both of my parents were born and raised in kansas, as had been their parents (for the most part) and their parents, we consequently have lots of relatives buried in the state in which we live, which makes the decorating part a lot easier.

both of my parents are also really big into genealogies and tracing their ancestors back to the countries from which they originally came (i’m a 13th- or 14th-generation descendent of george soule, one of the mayflower pilgrims). the upshot of this is that my dad is constantly finding info about which of our as yet unlocated relatives are buried where. we then utilize national holidays to go find these graves. our fourth of july trek involved my grandparents, ticks, a random guy who may or may not be related to us, a family gravesite on the edge of what’s now a golf course, lunch in a smokey bar and a digital jukebox (which cost a dollar a song).

since yesterday was labour day, we decided to go up to the area around liberty, missouri, and find some of my dad’s mom’s dad’s ancestors. we went to three cemetaries in total, but none of them was the one we were actually looking for. it’s kind of hard, though, to find anything when you have such sketchy directions as “it’s located northeast of cooley lake,” and you can’t even see the lake from high up on a hill because the oxbow is completely filled in with lillypads and cattails and is more marsh than lake. oh well — we had a great time, and we did find some of the children of the folks we were looking for.

since i fancy myself to be a photographer, i also took a lot of pictures. i take lots of pictures every time we go to a graveyard, so i have quite a collection now. it includes graves from the bruton parish churchyard inwilliamsburg, virginia, the village churchyard in condicote, gloucestershire, england, and many random graveyards i can’t remember at the moment. but this is why my friends think i’m weird. i like to hang out in graveyards. with lots of dead people. i actually am excited about visiting graveyards. and then i take lots of photographs of the tombstones and turn them black and white and make them look creepy. but no, that is not weird in my book.

in my book, being obsessed with cillian murphy’s eyes is weird (ahem!).

and that i am most certainly not. :)