Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sweet Lemonade

I know I've mentioned it before, but it bares repeating.  Don't forget to look between the lines.  You know.  The census lines?  That's where the stories are.  Somewhere between the ages and the places of births is where they are hiding.

Every time I see a household in the census with extended family members residing in it, it gets me to thinking.  [I know.  Uh-oh.]  If there was a nephew living in the household, I think, "Why?  What happened?  What's the story?  I mean, I know there's a story there."  How do I know?  Well, I've lived that story.

Remember my younger brother [of my heart], Patrick, who was also one of my sister's children?  And how the mitochondrial disorder that he was afflicted with and also eventually caused his early death was the same disorder that prevented my sister from raising and taking care of him in the first place?  And how my parents took him in and raised him.  Like their own.  Like our own.  And for all the trials, tribulations, and tears, I wouldn't have had it any other way.  Because at the end of the day, I got a younger brother.  One that I had wanted very much.

Well, my story isn't unlike other people's stories.

Harvey "Harve" Lewis Pointer
Take Harvey Lewis Pointer, my husband's great-grandfather, for example.   "Harve" was Daniel Pointer's youngest child.  And when Harve was about 10 months old, his mother Emma died.  And I guess Daniel felt that along with Harve's 5 older siblings, he wasn't going to be able to take care of little Harve.  So, Emma's brother, John C. Belcher, Jr. and his wife, Mary (Shearer) Belcher [Harve's uncle and aunt], took little Harve in and raised him.  Like their own.  Oh, and Harve gained 2 more siblings, as well ~ 2 sisters.  Minnie Etta and Effie.  Now, I don't know if Minnie Etta and Effie were happy about getting a younger brother like I was.  But got one they did.

Some might call this a tragedy.  But I don't think it qualifies as one.  A speed bump on the road of life?  Possibly.  But I think a detour on the road of life is more accurate.  Not sad or bad, but different.

You see, Harve still lived near his Pointer family ~ his father, brothers, and sisters.  Harve didn't lose a family.  He gained one.  And I find it interesting that Harve didn't even use the Pointer name until he married Pearl in 1906.  He called himself a "Belcher".  That says a lot about his relationship with the Belcher family, I think.  But, hey, don't take my word for it.  Nothing tells a story better than a picture, right?  Well, below are two pictures.  The top one is Harve as an adult with his Pointer siblings.  And the one below is Harve as an adult with his Belcher family.

Daniel and Emma (Belcher) Pointer's children.

BLR: Minnie Etta Belcher, Harve Pointer, Effie Belcher; FLR: John & Mary (Shearer) Belcher
See?  I told you he had 2 families.

And when I look into the eyes of Harve's Belcher sisters ~ Minnie Etta's and Effie's ~ I can honestly say I know a little something about how they felt.  About what their life was like growing up with a younger brother of their hearts.  And I also know it wasn't easy for either family ~ Pointer or Belcher ~ when Harve passed away prematurely at the age of 44 due to an accident.  I know it wasn't easy.

Because you gotta remember.  For all the forms, charts, dates, names, and numbers that we collect about them, our ancestors were just like us.  Flesh and blood.  With both good and bad things happening to them.  They had decisions to make from choices they didn't like.  They had things that they had to do when they didn't want to do them.

And just like them,

No matter how many lemons life serves us,

No matter how sour the situation is that we find ourselves in,

One fact remains the same that time cannot change.

We're just gonna add some sugar, water, and ice to those sour lemons and make sweet lemonade.


  1. Wonderful story! Truly enjoyed reading every word!

  2. Truly wonderful story! Thank you for sharing!

  3. My great grandfather and his brother were orphaned early in life and their mother's sister gave up her chance of marriage by taking the two little boys on (one 2 years old, the other 9 months old) with some financial support from other family members. When a Mum or Dad died, in times before any kind of State support, FAMILY swung into action and looked after those in need of looking after :-)

  4. Lisa & Sherry, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. The more I research, the more I find we're the same.

    Jo, I have learned that there are times in our lives that are defining moments. They are not planned, nor often wanted. And they usually come at the most inopportune times. We can go one way, or we can go another. The hardest decision to make is usually the right one. And have no doubt, it is hard. But once made, with a little time and tears, we can look back and know down deep inside that we made the right decision. That we chose well. And if given the chance to do it all over again, we'd choose the same. =)


  5. This reminds me that I need to keep researching my great-great-grandmother Nellie's childhood. She was born out of wedlock in 1890, just 2 months after her biological father (named on her birth certificate) died from tuberculosis. She is found on the 1900 census living with a first cousin of her mother's and his wife. Her biological father was named as a witness at this cousin's marriage. Then the cousin's wife died in 1903, when Nellie was just 13 years old. In 1904, Nellie was married at the age of 14. I have always wondered if she married so young b/c she felt lonely and without a family.

  6. Thanks for sharing. My grandmother's older sister was actually her biological cousin. My aunt's biological parents were unable to care for her, and my great grandparents (at the time) were childless. It was a perfect solution. Family is family, and what you make of it.

  7. Great story, wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it.


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