Daily Archives: August 2, 2013

In Search of My Roots

Growing up a military brat, I always lamented my lack of “roots”.  I often dreamed of being Opie Taylor, living in idyllic Mayberry or George Bailey, suffering through life in Bedford Falls.  Connections, shared memories of living in one place all my life, surrounded by family and neighbors who were just like family, I yearned for all of it.

As an adult, I realize the experiences I gained from my nomadic upbringing prepared me well for the real world and I wouldn’t now trade my youth for anything.  Yeah, I know, with age comes wisdom.  Yet, I still always wondered: what if?

Last weekend, my husband and I dragged our two kids (and the one extra child we’d taken to the beach with us) to the 47th Annual Lane family reunion in picturesque Marion, South Carolina.  My maternal grandfather, Paul Lane was one of nine children born in the early 1900s to Sampson and Roma Lane.  While my grandfather left home to make his fortune in that other country known as New York City, many of his siblings stayed put and raised their families within miles of the Old Ebenezer Methodist Church—a congregation that dates back to 1731—where the reunion was held.

I’d only been to one other Lane family reunion and that was as a young girl my daughter’s age.  Needless to say, it took some courage to walk into a room full of strangers. I was waiting for my feelings of “rootlessness” to overwhelm me.

Only that feeling never came.

Instead, I was embraced by a room full of people I’d only met once or twice before in my lifetime—and even then it was decades ago.  It was as if I’d been there all along, a part of the sprawling family tree—now practically a forest—of Lane’s who celebrated my accomplishments and hugged my children as if they’d seen them only last week.  I wasn’t the long-lost Yankee cousin. They reminded me I was a South Carolinian by birth—a quirk of serendipity that had my father stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C. when I was born.

We gathered in the church annex for pot luck and socializing and I was reminded that families are the bedrock that holds this country together.  The reunion was opened with a rousing chorus of America the Beautiful followed by Amazing Grace and a devotional prayer.  Then lots of good food.  All of it homemade.

After lunch (or dinner as it’s referred to in the true South) my cousin, Cathy, took my family on a tour of the small family cemetery nestled behind the single room, original church a few miles away. It was built in 1856 and added to the National Register in 1973.  (The congregation met in a log cabin for the first hundred and twenty-five years.)

Here’s the marker for my great-grandparents who started it all.Sampson Lane

This is my grandfather.Paul Lane

Being the deep South, it’s only natural to have a Confederate soldier buried there.confederate tombstone

So I had the family history after all; the connections and the roots I’d been wishing for all along.  I’m proud to be a part of such an historic family that documents and celebrates its heritage.

Does your family gather for reunions?  What special things do you do at those reunions?

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