The keeper of the flame

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Jo Ann Jaacks’ family

Jo ann jaacks

My Aunt Mary was the one who took pictures at family gatherings, and I’m grateful for that because my parents didn’t have a camera. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to admire vintage photos of my sister and I wearing grandma’s dresses or homemade Easter clothes, although there is a photo of me and my older brother in it. ‘one year old mother and grandmother with Aunt Mary in the middle. It’s a mystery that took this blow.

My aunt also created a family tree of our Irish roots, proving that we are the descendants of JFK and Deacon Samuel Chapin, our great-great-great-great-grandfather who was the founder of Springfield, Ma and who has a statue there to prove it. I wouldn’t be all arrogant about this though; I’m sure there were rascals climbing this family tree as well.

It’s good to know where you’re from, and I’m guessing there are several genealogy websites that can help make those connections, but I think the best way is to listen to your elders talk about where they’re from. and share their stories.

A few years ago, when my church had a lot of young people in the congregation, the Sunday School teacher involved the children in a project that consisted of a one-on-one interview with an older church member who didn’t. was not a parent. . Both sides loved the experience and hopefully it inspired them to do the same with their own loved ones.

When I stayed with my Irish grandmother over the summer holidays, I asked her questions every day at breakfast. What was it like coming to Ellis Island as a teenager with your younger sister? Was it difficult to cook with peat? What did you do for fun? Can you show me how to read tea leaves? Her favorite comment was “You certainly have a knack for gossip.”

After the passing of my Irish grandmother and my aunt Mary, and finally both of our parents, one of my sisters took the responsibility of taking her children to the graves of our loved ones, taking them to funerals, weddings and at family reunions so that they grow up knowing their kinship. She decorated her walls with pictures of those who are now past, and put away the furniture that belonged to them in her rooms.


When I asked my sister, “Didn’t we have a parent who was a traveling actor in the 1890s.” . . or is it my imagination? When she replied: “It’s your imagination”, I believed her. After all, she is our family’s flame keeper.


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