Tuesday, August 2, 2011

100 Years.

This past weekend we drove down to Dinwiddie County, Va to my family's ancestial church, St. John Nepomuk for our family reunion. This year marks the 100th anniversary of my great Grandfather, Charles Uzel, and his brother Frank Uzel's pilgrimage to America from Gernik, Romania. The church appears to be modeled after the Catholic church of the same name in Gernik, Romania. My great grandfather, his brother and their wives were all buried in the cemetary behind this small, beautiful church.

The church was simple, small and yet beautiful in every way. I felt at home in the pretty sanctuary built by my family. A very pretty statue of Mary.

The alter.

The infant of Prague.

The stained glass was also stunning.

St. John Nepomuk was a martyr and is a patron saint of the Czech people. He was drowned by Charles the IV for not revealing his wife, Elizabeth's confession. That is true honor. We had a very fun day at the reunion, seeing all my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, cousin's cousins, etc. Anastasia had a blast with the other children, one little girl who was her age in particular. They danced, and played and moonbounced and blowed bubbles while we enjoyed delicious sour kraut, kilbasa, kalache and Czech Beer. Not to mention a huge building full of good company, family from far and wide who wouldn't exist if not for Charles and Frank's bold expedition across the Atlantic. Its wild to think of all the events in History that take place in a very particular way to lead up to the moment in time where we live our little lives.

I am so grateful to know our history that we may understand better who we are, and pass on the legacy that was started many years ago. I am flooded with so many emotions after a weekend with family who I see so little of now that I have my own family. It is hard not to come away a little sad that we are so far away from one another in this communication age. It is sad to think that others may not still be around at the next reunion as things and people change and move on to the next life. It is hard that in only 2 generations we have lost our Czech language and no longer know how to make a proper kolache. It is sad that I don't know my grandfather's gardening tricks, or how to make a bottle of my Uncle's blackberry wine or pickels. I don't know much about who my grandparents were, nor the amazing people who were my great grandparents. And yet when we all connect at a reunion, and see similarities and find that there are some things that are a part of us that could never be taught or passed on verbally. Hearing the stories and history and seeing pictures remind us of where we came from and shapes, in a small way, that who we become. And did I mention that there was not only a moon bounce, but also a Snow Cone machine at our reunion? They have become much more fun since I was little. I think Isabel had 10 snow cones.


Uncle Mike said...

Thanks Clare - you said it all - that's what the Reunion is all about. Makes all the planning and preparation worthwhile!

Uncle Mike

P.S. Let's get together and make some wine and pickles!

Clare said...

Thanks Uncle Mike for all your planning. We really had the best time! Anastasia is already talking about coming to stay with you and go to the "family communion" again. :)

Susan Figueroa said...

Hi Clare, Thanks for your comments on the reunion. It was great to see everyone and it is sad that we all live so far away - especially since we have girls the same age! Let me add to your knowledge about grandma and grampa from my perspective; as I am sure your mom has told you many things already. Debbie and I spent most summers there as my mom and dad both worked. We also spent many Christmas vacations there too. I remember these things most fondly: your mom taking me and Debbie on walks through the woods with their dog Jeb, Grandma would say "oh me" every time she sat on the armchair, uncle Jim taking me and Debbie to the State Park with Cleo (his dog), many nights of sitting in the basement playing pool, drinking tea, eating cookies and watching family friendly shows with the entire family, picking blackberries and having grandma make cobbler - she always made fresh cobbler and pies (I got to pick the apples for the apple pie too), after each meal..all the food scraps would be thrown in the garden to fertilize the crops, every meal had a slice of white bread to go with it, I remember forcing grandma and grampa and my aunts and uncles to play monopoly, hearts and other games - we would play for hours (sometimes they had a "no kid' game going on and I would get mad), I would dress up in a white slip and red cowgirl hat and run through the garden barefoot squishing rotton tomatoes between my feet and then Grandma would have to wash them before i was allowed in, I remember her making Grampa's lunch for work (I think at Dupont?), I used to play for hours on the merry-go-round that Grampa made in the woods, I would explore the woods behind the garden for hours on end (hard to believe now since I really am not a nature-type person), I remember the fireplace downstairs and how it smelled in the winter, I remember Grandma taking us to work with her at the school if she had to go in over the summer, I remember church on Sunday's with the family and then to gramdma's or uncle Edwards for food afterward, i remember the many cats that lived on the property and how they would run up when we had food for them, I remember Jeb's little dog house at the top end of the driveway and how sad I was when he died, I remmeber standing on a yellow-jacket nest by the merry-go-round and getting stung many times on the ankle, your mom never wanted to sleep with me because I kicked, at Christmastime there were so many presents under the tree that it took up half the livingroom...I remember Grandma cooking breakfast for everyone in the morning and how good it smelled, I remember grampa crying when he opened the sneakers grandma bought for him for Christmas ( this was the first Christmas after she passed away),.....I have so many more memories as well...too many to write down. I'm glad I had those years with everyone, especially now that I don't get to see anyone....I may have the City in my blood, but Heritage Road is in my heart! Hope we can see you guys again soon!

Clare said...

Aww, thank you for sharing that Susan! I forget that you actually had memories of our grandparents. And your comment was so sweet, I became all teary eyed reading it! It was so good to see you last weekend. Have a nice rest of summer and please feel free to share any memories you have of Grandma and Grandpa! :)