Gratitude and Reclaiming Family – By Cara Potapshyn Meyers
For those of you who read my blog last week, you may recall how disappointed I was going to a restaurant for the first time ever for Thanksgiving. I mentioned that I was invited by cousins to go for dinner at an upscale restaurant. My son was also invited, but I didn’t think that he could sit for such a prolonged period of time with only adults. I made the decision to have my son go with my husband to his mother’s for Thanksgiving, where there would be other children for my son to play with, rather than be the only child, at a table, in a stuffy restaurant. It was the perfect decision!
From what I was told, my son had a splendid time with the two other boys at my in-law’s! He had such a good time that one family was sleeping over, so my son wanted to sleep over too! My husband came back to our house, collected items for my son’s overnight bag, and my husband and son stayed over my in-law’s Thanksgiving night!
I had my own fabulous time! I love getting together with my cousins because we always end up talking nonstop! And talk we did! We ended up taking most of our meals to go because we just couldn’t stop yakking! The bites of food I did try, were certainly delectable! I was shocked that this restaurant was able to produce a Thanksgiving dinner even better than I have ever had at home! It was beyond delicious! In any event, I digress.
I brought with me downloaded photos of family on my father’s side, from Michigan, who “found” me on Facebook. Last summer, the wife of my second cousin sent me a message asking if I was the daughter of Michael Potapshyn (just how many “Potapshyns” are there, really?). I responded that I was. Ever since, I have been corresponding with his wife (Maggie), her three daughters, and another second cousin who lives in California! As my cousins and I perused through the pictures, we unanimously decided that our other female cousin, who lives in Florida, looks exactly like Maggie’s middle daughter! And furthermore, my cousins then looked at Maggie’s first-born daughter and declared that I look very much like her! When I sent a message to Maggie later that evening, relating this observation, she said that she looked closely at some photos of me and of her eldest daughter, and that she agreed that there was a strong resemblance!
As our 5-course meal was concluding, and take-home bags were piling up, we decided to forgo dessert in the restaurant, as one of my cousins had an entire buffet of desserts waiting for us at her home. Still chatting away, we made our way back to her house. Once inside, as my cousins were setting up the “buffet,” I walked around the living room admiring my cousin’s taste in decoration. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two photos on an end table that I had seen before, but not at my cousin’s house. When my father lived by himself, he had two ancient photos on his desk. Both photos were of his family circa 1920. In one of the photos, my father was a toddler, holding onto his father’s knee. My father at that age looked like the spitting image of my son when my son was a toddler! When my father became too elderly to manage living alone, we moved him closer to us. And in packing his belongings, I have a feeling he threw out those two photos.
I looked in every box, every drawer, every cabinet, and every closet, in search of those photos! I asked my father, whose memory was not very good at the time, if he knew what happened to those two photos. He couldn’t recall. Once my father passed away, I gave his home a complete and thorough going through, but to my utter disappointment, never found those photos. I was devastated.
Now, here were those same two photos, sitting on my cousin’s table! I became so excited, I squealed! My cousin thought something was wrong, but in my excitement, I joyously exclaimed, “You have them!! You have the pictures my father also had but I thought he threw them away!!” She joined in with my excitement and said, “Let’s scan them into the computer right now and e-mail them to you, so that you have copies of them!” There was excitement abound as we were scanning! We saw a very close resemblance of our paternal Grandfather to one of my cousins! We all knew that the oldest child died in childhood of an illness, but all of us were given conflicting stories. We were like kids again, sharing excitement over something that meshed us together! It was a fantastic, memorable moment!
Next my cousin went through a drawer and found photos of our parents with their family when our parents were probably in their 20s! My cousin had 4 of that particular photo, so she gave one to me, which I plan to scan into my computer for safekeeping!
I think the most important reason why I was so overjoyed by the discovery of these photos was really for my son. My father passed away when my son was 3 1/2. However my son still remembers my father vividly. I want to show my son the photo of his “Poppy” when Poppy was a toddler. And then put a photo of my son as a toddler next to it to show my son how similar they both looked at that same age! I also want my son to know that he has family other than my in-laws. I am an “only child” and my parents are both deceased. But we still have family of mine that lives close by as well as newfound family that lives in Michigan! And I would like to take my son to visit the “Michigan side of the family” at some point in time!
So, all told, I had an unexpectantly marvelous Thanksgiving, on so many levels! Sharing newfound relatives, spending quality time with existing ones, finding old photos of family that is now deceased and obtaining copies of these photos as keepsakes to share with my son! How more grateful could one possibly get?!
Well, there is one more thing I was grateful for. Delicious leftovers from our incredible meal the next day!!