|mother meets her relatives|
What is a family? How are they made? Who lives in it? Who is outside it?
My own needs created a definition of "family" early on in my childhood that still serves me well. My family is made up of all who have touched me and been a part of my life. They live on in my mannerisms, patterns of speech, priorties, and my <sigh> physiology. They are not just "bloodlines" for blood does not make a family. Living, caring, and sharing histories make a family. Those I have loved, I love still. Relationships may change, but families are forever.
It could be because I am female that I prefer to follow the matriarchal line-- if only because you generally can know who the mother is! This gets a little muddy when you know that I am a mother who (technically) did not give birth, but was nevertheless blessed with bringing two (wonderful, beautiful, delightful) children home.
Mother Says You CAN Go Home Again...
I have learned a lot about my past by reading my grandfathers' journals. I was in there as a piece of his life. I don't remember any of it, but I was glad to read it mattered enough to him to add my occasional presence to his extremely brief journal entries. Sometimes my mother would share family history things with others and it would get back to me. She assumed I knew all this. Somehow I missed hearing it as a child.
...and She Did
This is the report she gave of her most recent family trek.
I just met my relatives!
Most of you know I flew to Phoenix the first weekend in October where I met my brother at the airport and we proceeded to the home of a motorcycle friend living about 10 miles from the site of the First Ever All-Bushnell Reunion. Our hostess provided lodging and transportation for the Big Weekend.
As you all know, our family came from Horsham, England, to Guilford, Connecticut in 1635: there were 5 sons and my branch came from Richard Bushnell, a builder by trade. Over the dozen generations since that time, all Bushnells have spread across the American continent while maintaining rather strict identities. I can remember once during the heyday of Francis Bushnell Reunions (that was my grandfather) some women showed up from another line and they were refused a seat at our tables! That was an incident that drove another nail in my own un affection for "family" -- which lasted many decades.
Well, anyway, a young woman in Phoenix (Susan Traub) with the maiden name of Bushnell decided to try an All-Bushnell Reunion, intending to try it again in 8 years if any folks were interested. And she worked VERY hard trying to trace all the Bushnells all over the country, sending out thousands of invitations to visit the Southwest and assemble at Estrella Mountain Regional Park outside Phoenix, where there are many large pavilions available and also a full-hookup RV campground. And they came from Washington to New England, from Michigan and Minnisota to Florida -- and many points between.
I was amazed at her organization. She had planned the entire weekend for families of all ages, and brought all the supplies and equipment needed to carry off games (mental and physical), icebreakers, etc., etc. She filled our three days from 10am till 6pm with just the right amount of activity, gossip (storytelling), genealogy and food. In addition to cookouts, there were snacks and drinks galore for everyone.
Many Bushnells who came brought genealogy materials and other artifacts -- enough to fill one of the pavilions -- and I never got to look at all of it. What a wealth of materials going back hundreds of years! A few had been to England and brought back Family Memorabilia. It was a feast for the Identity of a Family. And I had a new appreciation of the likelihood we were Tories during the Revolution. We were no slouches on the social register, overall, and the roll call of VIPs was truly impressive.
(Yes, I know my particular branch from the early 1800s in Territorial Michigan was NOT the cream of the crop. But I was still happy to learn how unusual it was to have a Bushnell who wasn't honored and prosperous.)
My brother has reported that less than a thousand people actually came to Phoenix for our Reunion. I'll concur with that, but those who came were so enthusiastic and appreciative of all Susan had done, we urged her to try it again after only four years: many of us may not be able to travel that far eight years hence!
And the identity of Self: I am Baby Bushnell #5426 born in the USA in the line of Richard. My brother, Herman, is #5427.
I was saddened by the realization that my own children do not have this heritage of "being Bushnells". In our patriarchal society, it is their fathers' names that count -- and we have no trace of their fathers' families, even though their American history is within the 20th century.
But this is softened by the willingness of the All-Bushnell Assembly to accept the children and grandchildren of the Family, come the next Reunion.
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Last updated Sunday, November 7, 1999 by Kali