Saturday, November 3, 2007

Passing the torch to the next generation

My father was born in 1911, the fifth of seven children born to Fred and alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver. Six of them lived to adulthood and married. Five of them had children of their own. The youngest child was Geraldine Seaver, who married in 1970 to James Howard Remley, a widower. Aunt Gerry passed away in late April, and I memorialized her here and here.

Jim Remley died on 1 November at the retirement home where he lived near Augusta ME. He was almost 96. He had a son, two daughters, and seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren if I remember right.

Jim was a lot of fun to be with. He loved his family, and enjoyed hearing about our family. He told good stories, and had a lot of wisdom to dispense. I loved Jim. Not just because Gerry had loved, married and cared for him as they grew older, but because he was such a gentle, happy and kind man.

Our best memory of Jim and Gerry was the family trip we took to New England in 1982. Our girls were 8 and 5 years old, and loved visiting places, exploring and trying new things. Going to visit Jim and Gerry at their summer cabin in the Maine woods on Lake Cobboseccontee (about a mile from the road on a dirt road) was the highlight of a wonderful vacation. The girls took to Jim right away - they went digging for worms in the woods, they went fishing off the dock on the lake, and went for boat rides to the store at the end of the lake, where he bought them treats. One night, they splurged (and went shopping) and brought live Maine lobsters to the cabin and the girls played with them (carefully!) on the floor before they went to their steamy reward. Jim and Gerry were really special people to our family.

About ten years ago, Jim asked me if I could find anything out about his family. He told me the basics about his parents and grandparents that he knew from the family papers, but wondered where the Remley name came from. I jumped to the task and quickly found information on his ancestors, and took several lines back into the late 1700's. The Remely immigrant came into eastern PA in about 1750 as I recall. I wrote up what I had and sent it to him, and he passed copies to his children. We got to know all three of his children over time, and they really appreciated what I found out and passed around. I'm so glad I did that.

Jim was the last of the "11th generation" of the Seaver family (counting from the immigrant Robert Seaver who came to Roxbury MA in 1634, and including spouses in the generation). It was fittingly called the "greatest generation" in popular books and media. I'm not sure that that generation was "greater" than the generation that fought and won the Revolutionary War, but that's a minor quibble.

Now the family torch has been passed from their generation to the "12th generation" - my generation, and that of my 2 brothers and 8 first cousins. We range in age from 52 to 81, and we have 21 children between us, scattered across the country living productive lives.

I'm feeling a bit older now - I'm officially in the "elder" class now in my extended family. I'm supposed to be noble, wise, fun, and happy. Right now, I'm just sort of sad. I'm also very thankful for Jim and his life. Thank you, Lord, for Uncle Jim.

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