Monday, January 21, 2008

Whatever Happened To ...

I've always enjoyed reading stories or watching T.V. specials that spotlight celebrities of years past. It makes me feel connected to my past, or as if the past wasn't all that long ago. I had a wonderful childhood, so anything that brings me back to it, even for just a short time, makes me smile.
This morning I awoke to an email that included an obituary for my mother's first cousin, Mary Margaret "Molly" (Williams) Jurkin. Molly was the daughter of Raymond and Margaret (Doyle) Williams. The obituary was sent to me by a cousin in PA.
I recall Molly very vaguely. I know that as a child my brothers and I were taken to the Jurkin house to play. I don't recall what she, her husband (John, who died in 1993), or her children looked like (one child died in 1979, two years after my family had moved from Niagara Falls, NY to Tempe, Az). I've seen pictures of her since -- recent ones at that -- thanks to the aforementioned PA cousin.

Molly's sister, Jane, died in 1996. Now Jane I remember quite well. She and her family lived about 6 or 7 houses down from us in NY. Her daughter used to babysit us (but not for long, since my oldest brother wasn't too far behind her in age). She worked for many, many years at our elementary school; in fact, the media center and library is now named for her. One of her sons used to work at the junior high school we attended, and all the kids loved Mike.

My dad's sister Norie (McHugh)(Scibilia) Rozanski also died in 1996. I remember her well, too. Those of you who read my Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories blog posts on "The Oracle of OMcHodoy" might recall the picture of me as a child in a hot pink velvet skirt and vest and a woman in a really hot pink miniskirt outfit. That hot woman in the mini skirt was my Aunt Norie. I remember her children well, too. We'd all traveled across the country and back in a truck when I was in the 6th grade. And because we all lived in the same area until 1977, we saw each other quite a bit.

My mother's brother Jimmie died in 2005. We hadn't had any contact with him or his family since my mother died in 1988. We spent a lot of time with him and his family, too. They joined us on that cross country trip in 1976, but they chose a different route than us, so we didn't finish the trip together. I was able to track Jimmie down many years ago, but all I was able to get was the location of his daughter, my first cousin. Several years after that and not long before Jimmie died in 2005, I managed to track Patty down and make contact with her and her father. And a little later, her mother. I haven't heard from the other cousins in this line, though I hear about them all the time from Aunt Joyce.

The point of this diatribe is this: Sometimes it makes me sad that the people I often wonder "Whatever Happened To..." are my very own cousins ... people I grew up with. Perhaps this is the year I follow Thomas' lead, and make an effort to find out.

Left to Right: The Hot Pink Family, with Norie sitting on the armchair; Uncle Jimmie and his mother, my grandmother, Regina Doyle O'Rourke; Mary "Molly" Williams Jurkin; Jane Williams Johnson.

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