AfriGeneas Writers Forum
"Cousin Jessie Mae"
reposted from Getting Started by forum admin
When I started researching my maternal's grandmother people, I had very little information. I didn't know where grandma attended church, where she was buried, where she attended schools. I didn't know the name of the community she grew up in. I didn't know all of the names of grandma's 14 siblings, nor who the siblings married. I didn't have pictures of grandma, or her parents, nor of her siblings.
The last of my grandmother's siblings died in 1989 and I wanted to know more about the family. Cousin Jessie Mae was the link to my maternal family, with the exception of my mother.
Jessie Mae was distant and seldom smiled. She was not warm and huggy and welcoming. Getting family information from her was difficult. I was persistent. Jessie Mae would only answer what I asked. No more, no less. I remained persistent. She gradually begin to add more details. She started sharing stories. She was colorful with her details, "Uncle Pearly woke up dead."
I would visit her often. A trust and love begin to develope. I mention obituaries one afternoon. She went to an old trunk and pulled out several old obituaries. I asked if there were pictures of relatives and again she went to the old trunk and pulled out pictures. Some she could identify, others she could not.
She was a treasure of information once she opened up.
I will attend her funeral this week. Her funeral will be held in the church where my great grandparents worshipped, where my grandmother taught Sunday School and where grandma was a teacher along with her sisters. My mother remembers church picnics under the big oak tree. The church is near the land where my folks were enslaved.
Cousin Jessie Mae was the first person to take me to Galilee Church to see where my great grandparents are buried. As she is laid among them for her final rest, I will be thinking of her, how grateful I am to her for being one of the bridges to my family history
Linda Durr Rudd,
"Remembering Their Names"