Mary’s table is huge. It can seat twelve comfortably. We were all as full as a boot, having spent the afternoon gorging at a family barbeque. We’d finally run out of food, or at least out of appetite, but we hadn’t exhausted the feeling of fellowship, so when we came in from the big enclosed porch we just re-convened around the table. Three generations of Careys were represented. It wasn’t long before we all started swapping stories – mostly memories of my Mom and Dad. The “Cousins” – that is, the generation after mine – all have vivid recollections of their Grandma and Grandpa and plenty of funny stories about them. We laughed; we shared; and we remembered.
Afterward, I desperately wished I had had a tape recorder going. These wonderful stories need to be preserved for all of us, but especially for the 3rd and 4th generations who didn’t know many of the characters and stories that make up our Carey family. I’m the official matriarch, being the oldest living female of the clan, but I’m definitely not the best source of information. Because I live in Australia, I haven’t been around my family very often in the past forty years so I’ve missed out on most of the family history during that time. I’ve missed seeing the children grow up, get married, and have children of their own.
Mary is my niece – one of the eight Cousins. She shares my yearning to capture those stories, and the larger history. She also shares my sense of humor, my love of writing, and she was about to share several weeks of travel with me. We talked of collaborating to write that family history, and I confess that I was counting on being able to mine her memory of the stories shared at our family gathering. I’m not long on memory at the best of times, and I hadn’t been at my best at the time, what with all the wine and food going down.
A few weeks after the family barbeque our Grand Odyssey began. We travelled first by train from Kansas City to Los Angeles, a 36 hour trip, where we boarded the Queen Mary 2 for a fifteen night journey from LA to Sydney. A couple weeks earlier we had set up a blog, The Queen Mary Twosome, so that our family and friends could share in our adventure as we travelled. It was Mary’s brilliant idea, and we had a ball doing it. It gave us our first chance to collaborate on a writing project. But between time spent having the adventure, and time spent writing about it, we didn’t devote much attention to the issue of the family history.
It was only later, back in Hobart, where the idea for a family blog was born. My son had come over from Adelaide to spend some time with Mary. He, like Mary and I, has spent much of his professional life writing and shares our passion. It was Adam who suggested the idea of creating a Carey Family Blog so that various family members could re-connect. The idea caught fire. Not only could we all get back in touch, or (re)acquainted, but we could share memories which in turn would provide the grist for someone to write our family history.
The idea was a success. There are only four or five family members who haven’t (yet) participated, but the great majority have contributed with enthusiasm. It is a wonderful way for families to connect, especially when spread around the country – or, indeed, the world.
For information on how to go about setting up your own (private) family blog, contact me here by leaving a comment. I would be pleased to help. Happy Blogging! MM