Reach Out to an Older Relative

Originally Published on The Upside by Twill

Go Deeper When Talking to Older Relatives

Many of us only speak with the older members of our family during the holidays or other big family gatherings. But leaving those conversations with grandparents and great-aunts and -uncles (or any other elderly aunts, uncles, or family friends) to just once or twice a year may be robbing you—and them—of a vital connection.

By making a point to speak with your elders, even in passing conversation, you might discover details about your family you previously overlooked, hear words of wisdom you didn’t know you needed, or (finally) get that chocolate chip cookie recipe Grandma’s kept under wraps for years.

If you haven’t reached out to older relatives in a while, you can:

  • Call your grandparents, who have already celebrated their gold or diamond wedding anniversary, to get their sage advice on how to handle a spat with your partner. They know a thing or two about lasting love ♾️
  • Ask your older relatives for tips on how to get the family favorite dishes to turn out perfectly every time 🥘
  • Organize an informal family reunion via Zoom or FaceTime and ask your older relatives about the family history and their favorite stories about their younger days. And this time, really listen 🌳

The Science: When catching up, don’t just ask your older relative how they’re doing—ask about their experiences, ask for advice, ask them what they would have done differently back in the day. Research suggests that relationship expectations change as we age, and in an effort to better connect with the older individuals in our lives and reduce their loneliness, we should listen intently to what they have to say, take an interest in their life experiences, and allow them to contribute, whether that’s through giving advice, sharing traditions, or serving as a mentor.



Why Index?

If you look up the definition of indexing, you will find the following definitions:

  1. the action or process of compiling an index.
  2. the movement of a machine or part of one from one predetermined position to another in order to carry out a sequence of operations.

I guess both would apply because actually an index is “an indicator, sign, or measure of something.” In in the case of indexing through Family Search, it is recording a time and a place in someone’s life. For example, when and where they were born or died, when they were married or divorced, where they lived in what year, where they served in the military and many, many more.

In the case of a census record, it can not be opened until 72 years after the day it was created. So the release of the 1950 census has caused quite a stir in the genealogy community. We are all waiting with bated breath to see those records and to find out more about our family members. Why? Because these census records, like many others, provide a wealth of information for the lives of individuals who existed and gives us a window into their lives at that time.

For many years now I have been indexing thousands of records for Family search where I take written information and enter it online into a database that is freely available to anyone. This work takes hours to complete and I am only one of the many who have been doing so for years. It is because of their work that I have been able to find records on my own family that go back to the 1700’s in Mexico.

Why do I bother to work this hard? The answer is simple. It is because I want to honor each person’s memory by including their information as carefully and completely as I can. I also feel that someday someone who has been looking for that long, lost relative will be able to find that scrap of information about them. This will turn just a name into a a person and family member who once lived many years ago. By learning about our ancestors, we find out why we are who we are and learn about the perseverance it took for them to survive.

I thoroughly enjoy indexing. I find the records intersting and engaging. Each record contains some bit of information that a loved one will need somewhere down the road. As for genealogy? It is truly a treasure hunt with each new bit of information found!

RootsTech 2022 begins on March 3rd and is absolutely free! If you are wanted to learn more about your ancestors or find out more about what those “crazy people” do who spend hours searching, this is the best place to go. It is free this year and all you need to do is register.



Where Do I Belong?


When I went to school the kids were either white or Hispanic. It wasn’t until years later when I went to high-school that I was introduced to other races as well. However, in my journey through life I still struggled with this dilemma, where do I belong? Even being half “white” I never found a place in that society like at parties, churches, or schools.

I finally found I felt more at home among the Hispanic people I grew up with as the daughter of missionaries who worked with the Braceros in McKinney, Texas. Even though I found my comfort zone, I have seen my children struggle with the exact same issues.


I suppose the answer lies in maturing and realizing the importance of individuality. God made each of us different. It’s just a matter of accepting those facets of our backgrounds and personalities that make us unique not only in the eyes of the Lord but in the eyes of those who truly love us.  

In a way, I guess I should feel very special even though I am “neither fish, flesh, nor fowl” just me.  As I have said to my children and grandchildren, “You are a pretty special kiddo!”

Now that I am learning about genealogy and the history of my family, I am so glad that there is information out there to help me understand more about myself. It would be terrible if things were removed from my education that helped me understand the history of our country and how we evolved. Yes, our forefathers did make mistakes, as we all do. But learning from those mistakes is imperative and therefore we can go forward and do a better job the next time.

It would have been terrible if our forefathers had said, the reason we came to the United States is too bloody a story, we can’t tell that to our children! Then we never would have learned how far they came and what they had to go through to become the wonderful people they became in the long run. 

We don’t need to ban our history. We need to share it no matter what the venue is. Classroom or newsroom. Share the truth! 

Book Review

Book Review: The Reading Tree by Khoo Kim Choo & Tran Dac Trung

When I first received my copy of The Reading Tree, I was immediately drawn to the illustration of the boy placing books within the limbs. This book, however, is much more than a picture book, it is the tale of a young boy who befriends a tree and reads to it for the rest of his life. It is also the tale of generations and how they teach others to obtain the love of reading. I can compare this book to The Giving Tree but with a much higher meaning behind it. I also compare it to the Free Little Libraries that have become a part of our culture. Take a book, give a book. That is exactly what this tree does house books for the entire community to come and enjoy. Based on the premise of a modern-day library, it welcomes everyone to come and enjoy its “fruits” which are the volumes of books housed in its massive branches. I especially loved the ending where Meng’s granddaughter comes and asks to read to the tree.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to libraries as well as to be used in the classroom.


Now That I Want to Play in the Family Tree What Do I Do?

A wonderful article when starting out.

GAA Magazine

By Sue Randolph Neikirk

For many of us we grew up with the idea of how much we really just hated history class. “What does history have to do with us? Why should we care? It has nothing to do with us. It’s Boring!” (Did you feel that eye roll)?

I recalled times my great granny spoke of family and I listened with half an ear. Her ownmom…my great great granny (born in 1863) who I still remember, had a grandma that was Abe Lincolns cousin, or at least that is what they said. Of course, that meant nothing to me. I was a kid and seldom believed anything told me at that time. And since it was the 1960s and I was rebellious of everything including family history. And like any person working on their own genealogy today I am kicking myself and would love to have asked more…

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There are all kinds of cultural celebrations. In the past, my family often celebrated New Year’s Eve with buñuelos and canela as we watched the shows on television. As our lives have changed, my husband and I celebrate by drinking carbonated grape juice and looking forward to a long life together.

I enjoy learning about how other cultures celebrate their holidays and have had the privilege of reviewing a perfect one for the Chinese New Year in Eugenia Chu’s Celebrating Chinese New Year which combines history, culture, games, recipes and wonderful illustrations. It makes me wish I were still teaching so I could use this book in the classroom!

Take the time to check it out on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3ISsaaU


James C. Little House

Abandoned Southeast

Little House Louisville Georgia

This Gothic Revival home known as the Little House was built at the end of the Reconstruction Era sometime between 1867-1876. The original owner, James Cain Little, joined the Confederacy at the age of 17 before becoming President of the local railroad for 30 years. James was the son of Robert Patterson Little and Elizabeth Cain Little and was a prominent merchant in town from 1869 until the early 20th century.

James Cain Little and family The owner, James Cain Little, is at the right next to his second wife Nellie. His mother is behind him and 6 of his children are on the porch.

In 1875, James Little bought approximately half of a city block from William A. Wilkens, one of the early large property owners in Louisville. The purchase price was $2,000. The following year, Mr. Little contracted with L.J. Guilmartin & Co. to build his large residence. He paid them $4,000 to…

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In Celebration of Being a Mother

Photo by Wayne Evans

Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and it is a day our thoughts center around our mothers, all of the things we can be thankful for, and how to honor them. In this article, I do not want to thank my mother even though I do for everything she taught me.

I want to take this time to thank my children for making me a mother. I don’t mean in the biological sense, because their father helped with that. I want to thank them for what has happened since they made their first appearance known to me with a tiny butterfly kicks.

Since I became a mother, I have learned many things. How to be patient, how to be loving even when a child is saying, “I hate you!” How to embrace that same child when they say “I love you!” How to clean up messes that are not your own and go on to teach that child how to clean up after themselves; how to help them take responsibility for their own actions; how to potty train; how to be a teacher on a daily basis; how to embrace the simple things; the moments of quiet, the moments of laughter, the moments of tears; how to continue even when you are going it alone; how to be strong when you have no strength left; how to find a way when there is no way; how to embrace faith and rely on that faith to care for a child when they are beyond hope; how to love and be loved; how to find joy in a child’s embrace or a sloppy kiss; how to find joy in small hugs and first steps, first words, first signs of growing up; how to share sadness in first disappointments, first cruelty, first broken heart; and how to go on after burying one long before his time.

All of these things have helped me to become the woman I am today. Most of all, I want to thank my children for the beautiful, wonderful, smart, talented grandchildren they have given me, and the precious moments I have spent with them.

I love you so very much! Thank you for making me a mother.