My Dad, Dock Kilpatrick, came from a very large family. He was one of nine children. They have all gone to meet their Maker, and I miss them very much. Of course, especially my Dad, but I really loved my Aunts and Uncles, especially those that I was blessed to get to know.
Dad was the 8th of nine kids, and there were great gaps in the ages of those 9 kids. Also, there were two that died, tragically, as very young children. It was a different time, and things that might have been considered common, easy to cure illnesses now, back then, claimed many young lives. So was the case of at least one of his siblings, who died from an appendix that burst. Another one, well, they never did know exactly what caused his death. Very sad, indeed.
My Dad's family, the Kilpatrick's, were from Alabama. As a young man, Dad moved to Akron, Ohio to work in the rubber factories. His oldest brother, my Uncle Ralph, and his youngest brother, Uncle Joe, also moved to Akron. This was good for me as a kid, because I got to know them and be close with their kids, my cousins. But, that left my Aunts, Louise, Gladys, (we called her Aunt "Pete", and I don't know why), and Aunt Reba, all living far, far away from us. We went to visit them on vacations, but when you only see someone once, maybe twice a year, for a few days at a time, you never really get to know them like you do someone you see frequently. Still, we were family oriented, so we tried to stay in touch with each other.
I have to tell you, I have lots of cousins, and I mean lots! They are all really good people, Christians, and we are scattered all over this great big country. Unfortunately, that means that once our parents were gone, we gradually lost touch with each other.
Enter Facebook! (Yep, I'm going to sing it's praises once again.) One day I received a "friend request" from a gal that I wasn't, at first, sure who she was. The name rang a bell, however, I had to dust off some part of my memory banks to fill in the blanks. She is my cousin's daughter! My first cousin, once removed! Woohoo! I immediately accepted her friend request, gladly, and started looking at her friend list. There were many relatives I haven't seen, or talked to in many, many years. I sent friend requests to all of them I thought would have a clue who I was. Slowly, but surely, I became "friends" with all of these "long lost relatives"!
It has been so nice to reconnect with them. One cousin had moved from Nashville, Tennessee, to Alabama, and we didn't know that before Facebook. My mom had tried to find her, but was at a deadend, until I found her on Facebook. We exchanged phone numbers, and my Mom got to talk to her one evening before I came back to Florida. I really enjoyed watching my Moms face as she "caught up" with her niece.
Another cousin lives in Sebring, Florida, and we started "talking" on Facebook. Now that Dennis and I are in Florida for the winter, we decided we should try to see each other while I'm here. Guess what? We are having a "family reunion" this weekend in Sebring, Florida! My "Aunt Pete's" kids are cousins I never got to spend much time with growing up because they had moved to Florida, and when we visited Dad's family, we usually went to Alabama because his parents lived there. I remember one year, 1964, we went to Florida and spent some time with them, and we had so much fun, but other than a few family gatherings in the years since then, I haven't had the pleasure of seeing most of them since 1964... That's a loooong time ago!
My Dad was such a family man, I mean he really loved his family, all of them. He spoke of them often, even when kept apart geographically, they were all close in his heart. He would be so happy that we have made this connection now, and I hope he's looking down on us smiling about it. He'll be with us in spirit. He, and my Mom, taught me and my sisters that God and Family are the most important things in life, and to cherish both. I do. And the older I get, the more I do.
So, once again I'm singing the praises of Facebook. It helped me find the best friends I could ever imagine having, and now it's brought family back into my life.
Thanks Mark Zuckerberg!!!