How could my 4th great-grandparents Winters and my 4th great-grandparents Wayt have ever known that someone who would be born well more than a century after they left the earth would be interested in their lives as if they were immediate family?
They couldn't have.
Yet, I've often wondered if they ever wondered about their distant offspring...what our lives would be like. Did they know even then that without their hard work and dedication, their perseverance and sacrifices, we wouldn't be enjoying the benefits of modern living that we do?
One warm summer day in the summer of 1969, my aunt Anne Corinne, affectionately known as "Aunt Renee" to her nieces and nephews, arranged a little trip for us to "visit" some important family members whom I had never met...and never would. We went to Stone Church Cemetery in Elm Grove, West Virginia, then "just up the hill a piece" to Sand Hill Methodist Church Cemetery.
Somehow, Aunt Renee knew that the gravestones I stared at would one day be far more important to the boy of not-yet-twelve than the names and dates inscribed upon them. At each gravesite, she explained who the individuals were who laid there and would throw in a few family stories making them seem to come alive again. Enthralled, I soaked up every image and word as if the barrier of time had simply melted away.
Aunt Renee joined our family in these graveyards in 2012, but I won't have to wonder if she knew how precious the gift she gave to me that day eventually became.