Family Strangers

I recently received a contact message on ancestry.com from another gentleman who identified himself as my cousin. I answered back and quipped to him that the last guy that sent me a message saying he was my cousin turned out to be my brother and then I asked him who his father was… 

As it turns out this young man who is 31 years old and named Ross is my half uncle’s son. After a few correspondences back-and-forth we managed to sort out that Ross’s father is my father’s half brother. From the marriage of our grandfather Richard, Sr. and his second wife, Patricia, baby-boy Lee was born in 1944 and a sister, Carol in 1945, just shortly before the marriage ended. 
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It's no wonder that at 18 Lee joined the Navy and disowned the Wood family. I keep seeing the same pattern over and over again; my grandfather married three times, my father three possibly four or five times and I am certain that my Uncle Don was married twice. If age and experience have taught me nothing it’s that people change after they get married, especially if they do it at a young age. Growing apart is one thing, but abandonment is something completely different.  

I stare into the faces of these children in these old photographs and I know that they're my family, I know that they are my cousins; I know that their fathers and their mothers are related to me in some way and yet they are strangers. The children in the photo with me are not too much older than I, making me believe that they are still alive, out there somewhere, and hopefully they’re memories are still in tact.  

And I come full circle every time to my family just being fractured – splintered in a million different directions like shards of shattered glass. You might be able to pick up the big pieces, but the small bits are lost forever.  

Kansas Group1968-sm2jpgWhat began for me as almost a lark to find out who Rick Wood is or was is a mission now. Some days the dissection is easy and I can maintain a healthy safe distance from my subject. And other days it’s not so easy, in fact it’s downright difficult to sit and read accounts of your family that would fascinate some and horrify others.  

So, today I am re-posting this photo, as well as a second one that depicts a Kansas family, happy to have visiting from Alaska Uncle Rick with his new wife, their baby girl, Gabrielle and her two sons, Lynn and Dale.  

What happened to these children in the wake of all the adult madness?