We all should take a second look at the family records that we have gathered in our search for family history. You may find some surprises when you re-examined them. I have re-read many of the family’s obituaries and researched the names of long past cousins. By doing this, I have been able to gain much new information. Also, the more current obituaries have led me to cousins I never knew existed. By current, I mean anything in the last seventy five years. I just recently found a second cousin who went to school with my wife from an obituary from the year 1984. Perhaps one of my most surprising discoveries was not even discovered by me. It was my mother’s telling the story of my baptism that had me running to check my baptism certificate. I have looked at my baptism certificate many times but had never noticed the blank spot where the name of my god-father should be. I have always been told that my Uncle Lawrence and Aunt Verna were my god-parents. But as they use to say “now for the rest of the story” my mother was now about to share. I was baptized on July 15, 1951. It was a rainless day that was to reach a high of 83 Fahrenheit. I am willing to bet it seemed warmer in the church that day with a few storm clouds in evidence. The family had gathered for my baptism that Sunday after all the masses having been said. However, a hitch had developed that threatened my baptism from taking place. My Uncle Lawrence was not Catholic but was a Methodist. Being Methodist made him ineligible to be my god-father. Arguments ensued, but matters were even made worse. The priest would not let my uncle stay in the church. My uncle had to wait outside on the church steps while I was being baptized.
When I first heard of this, I was stunned. I had to blink and hide the tears that were coming. I could not and still can’t think of anyone that this action could have hurt more. My uncle was a gentle and loving person. In all my years I never once heard him use a profane word. He taught me about stamp and coin collecting. Every summer I would stay a week or two at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Massena, New York. They lived about 90 miles from my hometown. Every Sunday, my aunt, would go to her Catholic church, and my uncle would go to the First United Methodist church. They say examples speak louder than words and the way both my Aunt Verna and Uncle Lawrence lived spoke very loud indeed. You may notice in my picture that my Uncle Lawrence lost his right arm. It happened in a work related accident. He had to learn to write with his left hand and to do many things we never have to think about. While I am sure, he had his downtime I never heard him complain once. I can remember well the day of my father’s funeral when he gave me a hug with that arm. The look in his face as he tried to form words but could not. His eyes were saying it all.
I always had god-parents. But not on paper. I had them when I needed them in real life. They set the bar pretty high. My uncle just proved you cannot shut a good man out.