When you read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir you will discover that Sy, my then husband and I took our daughters to many different places in an effort to help our two families blend into one family by building new common history. So when it came time to babysit the grandchildren the pattern was already established and we took Andrew and his sister Nicole to many different places. Andrew had a love of history and Nicole a love of art so we tried to alternate our adventures so that each child would have a chance to experience the things that stirred each of their hearts.
About a year before Sy passed away we decided to go to Concord Massachusetts, a
town not too distant from the town in which I grew up, and investigate to see what we could learn. This of course was a trip for Andrew. We wound up investigating the family burial plot of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The children wandered around looking at the various family headstones and Nicole suddenly called out, “Gramma, wasn’t your grandmother named Mary Moody?”
I responded, “Yes, she was but why are you asking?”
“Because there is a Mary Moody buried here in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s graveyard.”
I said, “You’re kidding!”
“No, I’m not. She’s right here. Come see.”
I did go and look and there was the name but it couldn’t be my grandmother because the dates were off. Some other person investigating the gravesite overheard us and said, “Maybe you should go to the Emerson House and take the tour. They could probably explain if there is a connection.”
Now the children were ready for a treasure hunt. We went to the Emerson Memorial House and took the tour. There was an historical guide explaining and pointing out important features of the house. At one point Andrew got close to the docent and said, “I think we may be related to Mr. Emerson.” The docent replied that he couldn’t help us with that but there was a family tree in the gift shop that we could buy and the person there might be able to help us with our investigation.
We bought the family tree and still were having trouble when the shopkeeper came and asked if she could help. We told her that we had found a Mary Moody in the family burial plot but the dates were wrong. She said, “Well Mary Moody, the aunt of Ralph Waldo, had a great uncle Joseph Moody, a minister and he was known as Handkerchief Moody.” I nearly gasped, because I had been brought up hearing all about Handkerchief Moody, and that we were directly related to him.
Andrew didn’t miss my intake of air. “What is it Gramma?” he asked.
“Well, Honey, what the lady just said means that you and your sister Nicole are related to Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
“Are you sure?” Andrew asked.
“Yes, I’m sure. My grandmother, Mary Emma Moody used to tell me all about her people that came over from England and how they settled in New England, and among them was a minister who accidentally shot a man, and as his penitence he wore a handkerchief over his face because he felt he was not fit to be seen by God with an uncovered face.”
“Wow!! We’re related to Ralph Waldo Emerson. The man in the house said he was a big writer!”
“Indeed he was a great writer, a great thinker, a social engineer, and a supporter of
the people of his time.”
“And he lived in this house?!”
“Yes, he did.”
“Boy is my teacher going to be surprised when I take that family tree and show her that I’m related to Ralph Waldo Emerson. I have to have the family tree because otherwise she’ll think I’m just making it up.”
“No, you’re not making it up, Honey, and you have to remember that your sister Nicole is also related.”
“Yeah, I know!”
When we walked back to the car that afternoon I swear that both children had a bit of a swagger. It is very important to know that you have important people who have broken the path before you and that you too have the genes and potential to be an important contributing member of our society.
Have you ever had something similar to this happen to you?