Beginnings are difficult. My ancestors made hard choices, sometimes with few options in front of them, that started their journeys to new lands. All, at one point or another, crossed an ocean to come to America. (We do, like so many others, have that family story that says g-g grandmother was Native American. At this point–not proven.)

On my mother’s side, my great grandmother was Norwegian. On my father’s side, my great-grandmother was Swedish. On both sides, there are Germans and Scots and Irish. And on my father’s side, we have the English.

On both my mother’s and my father’s sides, I have recent immigrants–family who came to the United States around the mid-1800’s and later. On both my mother’s and my father’s sides, I have ancestors who are listed as patriots in the American Revolution. Both sides had family who fought in the Civil War–some on the Confederate side and some who fought for the Union. Our family includes farmers, musicians, housekeepers, butlers, preachers, book keepers, educators, and chefs. We have our share of black sheep and skeletons.

The stories that were woven in their lives have become a thread that weaves through mine. Some stories have drawn me closer, and some have made me grateful that our lives are distant. Every story has given me insight into a life at a different time, in a different place. All the stories help me see the humanity in each of us. And the stories all tell of new beginnings…

baby Shirley and big sister EvelynShirley Patterson, born 10 May 1910, and big sister Ann Evelyn, born 31 July 1914