The first post of the year

DSC01304I like to spend the beginning of the new year reflecting on accomplishments of the past year, and setting goals for the new year…  I’m not quite ready to share any of that yet, however, I will share my “new” journal with you. It was a gift from my Uncle Johnny who passed away just before Christmas. He was my great uncle, my grandmother’s sister…  the youngest of the five siblings and the last one.  He was a brick layer and he lived on the farm he grew up on in Sedley Virginia– if you look close enough at the picture on the right you’ll see his hat says, “Been there Done that– Sedley” which is pretty funny considering Sedley, Virginia has a population of probably less than 2000 near as I can tell. It’s not even a town, more of a community in South Hampton County.

Note:  Sedley is home to Hubs Peanuts, the best peanuts in the world.

His wife, my aunt Lucille passed away a few years back, she had diabetes (Type 1 I believe).  Their son Curtis also passed away a couple of years ago (he was also a diabetic).  Uncle Johnny did have a grandson and a newly born great grandson.  He also had an adopted daughter who lived across the road, Anita. She called him Pop and looked out for him.  Uncle Johnny had a long life, he was 90, but he will be missed none-the-less.

CIMG1676So back to the journal.  I haven’t been journaling, and I’m not sure why… it’s a good way for me to process what’s going on in my head, to create starts to stories and to work out problems with pieces in progress.  And so, one of my goals for 2009 is to start it up again.  I pulled off the shelf this lovely journal that Uncle Johnny sent as a thank you gift after he visited my sister and I in San Diego two years ago. We had a fantastic time, touring him and Anita around.  He went back and told the whole town what great tour guides we were–  which resulted in more folks (I mean distant relatives) from Sedley visting and looking us up, but that’s another story.

CIMG1677So thank you Uncle Johnny.

I’m sure you received a warm welcome in heavan from your sister Ruby (my grandma),  Lucille and Curtis, your sisters Virginia and Shirley, your brother Tommy, George (my Dad) and many more.

Maybe they even had a big ole plate of fried chicken for you…  rumor had it that you could eat an entire chicken on your own.

PS:  I almost forgot to mention, that the best package ever received in the mail came from Uncle Johnny in 2006.  I mean seriously, you can’t go wrong with a hundred Audrey Hepburn stamps, can you?

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filled with Hubs peanuts

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On Death and Life

Per previous post, I was in Modesto, CA this weekend… the reason for my delayed Photo Phriday was that my sister and I went up to Modesto for my Aunt’s service.
We opted to go up on Thursday night (flying into San Jose) and spent the night with my Aunt Mary K and Uncle Bill. Cousin Jay flew in from New Jersey so the Simpson side of the family was well represented.

BETTY LOU VARGAS [Aunt Betty]
JUNE 11, 1921 – FEB. 18, 2008 Betty was a native of St. Paul, Minnesota and a resident of Modesto, age 86. She was interested in art and was an Artist herself, she was an avid reader and loved to travel. She is survived by her husband, Raidesel Vargas of Modesto; and her son, John Vargas of Sparks, Nevada. She was predeceased by her children, Nancy Lynn Vargas and Jeffrey L. Vargas. Visitation will be held from 3:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M. Friday, Feb. 22 with Services, same day, 4:00 P.M., at McHenry Chapel-Franklin & Downs. Private committal at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery. Remembrances may be made to Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1663, Modesto, CA 95353. www.modbee.com/obituaries
Published in the Modesto Bee on 2/21/2008.

I’m so glad we went up for the service, and that we were able to spend the day with my Uncle Ray– who’s nearly 90 and still as handsome as ever!! We used to visit them frequently, but it’s been a while. I even forgot that Uncle Ray and Aunt Betty were my godparents, until Uncle Ray told me that he and Betty wanted to adopt my sister and I after my mom passed way. The picture here was taken in front of their house in San Jose. I’m the sceptical blond in the front row.

They moved to Modesto 8 years ago! I had never seen this new house they bought (and you won’t either, I forgot my camera!) They turned one bedroom into a studio so my Aunt Betty could paint. I walked through the halls of my Aunt Betty’s house admiring her paintings and I came across a Family Photo wall. I recognized my Grandma and Granddad (Betty’s brother and sister-in-law), my great grandmother Simpson (Betty’s mother) and a photo I have never seen of my Great Great Grandparents Jay Ferris and his wife (name unknown at this moment).

As I stood there at the wall looking at pictures a woman came behind me and said, “La Familia.”

“Mi familia!” I said, turning to look at this dark haired, dark eyed woman a little older than me.

“Mi familia” she said.

“I guess we’re related then!” I learned that she calls my uncle Ray, “Uncle Red” because his name is Reidesel. She pointed out her mama, abuela, bisabuela los primos…. tio Red y su hermanos…

I came home with a tamale recipe that upon closer inspection calls for 12 pounds of meat. The Vargas family is much larger than the Simpsons!

(not so) Wordless Wednesday

bunchOSimpsons
Backrow L to R: Granddad, Grandma, Dad, Mom, Great Grandma Simpson, Aunt Betty and Uncle Ray.
Front row- Cousin John, Debby. I seem to be MIA. Or not here yet. Since I am four years younger than Debby (look at her posing for the camera in her red dress and matching tights) I am pretty sure I am not the one taking the photo.

Aunt Betty passed away the day before yesterday (she sure was a dish!). (Uncle Ray is still with us but he must be sad. He and Betty were married for over 50 years for sure) She was actually my great aunt, my granddad’s very much younger sister. The last of the Minnesotan Simpsons. We had not been close the last few years. She and my Uncle Ray had moved from San Jose to Modesto. They were older and didn’t travel much. I think they stopped travelling all together. And I didn’t have much call to go to Modesto.

I was busy with my life. (you know how that goes– work, home, writing, friends, busy busy). I think the last time I saw them was for Granddad’s funeral in 2004. (This is a problem with my family– too many funerals and not enough weddings!) The truth is I didn’t make the time to go visit. And except for the occassional Christmas card, didn’t make the time to keep in touch much either, relying on my sister or my Aunt Mary K and Uncle Bill to keep me posted.

My fondest memories are of going up to their house when I was a kid, swimming in their pool. I could say I’ll miss Betty… but really I’ve missed her for a long time I guess.