Saturday, February 1, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 4: "Close to Home" - My Grandparents and Great-Grandparents

Amy Johnson Crow, the creator of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, is always saying something along the lines of "Don't forget to write about yourself! You are a part of your family history!" So this week's post is partly about me, but it is mostly about the members of my family tree that were close to my home: my paternal grandparents, Harold and Edna Hudson Kessinger; my maternal grandparents, Charles and Phyllis Hunt Holmes; and my mother's maternal grandparents, Zack and Madge Moore Hunt.

Harold and Edna Kessinger
You couldn't get closer to home than my paternal grandparents - in fact, they lived right next door! My grandfather, Harold Kessinger, spent most of his career as a life insurance salesman with Life of Virginia Insurance Company, and my grandmother, Edna Hudson Kessinger, was a homemaker. By the time I came along, Papaw had long since retired. They sang Southern gospel music as The Co-Pilot Quartet with my mom and dad, and were active in our church. Having my grandparents so very close to home was a great blessing (with only a few challenges that any family would face). I have many wonderful memories of Sunday dinners, playing outside, summer trips, and holidays with them. And as much as we like to joke that having them right next door made us like the Barone family from the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond, I realize as an adult that I was blessed to spend so much time with them. Many people never even get to meet their grandparents, so when you look at it from that perspective, it truly was a blessing. They passed away only six months apart from one another - Mamaw Edna in December of 2011, and Papaw Harold in June of 2012.

Charles and Phyllis Holmes
My mother's parents, Charles and Phyllis Hunt Holmes, lived only about ten miles away, in the neighboring town of Elkview. Mom's "original father" (as I always called him), Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn, passed away before I was born; but as Monna (a name of my own invention for my grandmother) married Papaw Chuck before I was born, he has always been my grandfather as far as I am concerned. Papaw was a civil engineer for the State of West Virginia and later with Majeski and Masters Engineering Firm, his most famous project being the famous New River Gorge Bridge. Monna also had a long career with the State of West Virginia, her last position being Deputy Transportation Secretary. Despite their active work schedules, they always made time to spend time with us. I have many wonderful memories of everything from family reunions to ball games to camping with them. They moved to Florida last year, but they still come home frequently to see us and their church family, among whom they have several dear friends. I often joke that they have a more active social life than I do.

Zack and Madge Hunt.
I was also blessed to know one set of great-grandparents - my mother's maternal grandparents, Ernest Zacharias "Zack" and Madaline Eva "Madge" Moore Hunt. They lived about eight miles away, in the neighboring town of Belle. The house that they lived in was built by my great-grandfather for my great-grandmother. I can still remember the day that Papaw told us the story; he said that he asked Mamaw to marry him, and then asked when they would get married. She said she wanted to get married on the 4th of July, because "it sounded like a long way away." That very day, Papaw went home, got ahold of some lumber, and started building a house next door to where he lived with his father. Stories like this only scratch the surface of the wonderful memories that I have with them. Papaw Zack worked for Dupont for most of his career, and was an operating engineer. He was also the long-time pastor of United Christian Church in Belle. Mamaw was a homemaker, and a caretaker of just about anyone who needed caring for. Papaw and I were a lot alike, and were very close. We went on all sorts of adventures together, and had the best discussions. He passed away in September of 2008, and his passing was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. Mamaw lived another nine years, and passed away in March of 2017.

The small glimpse that I have given of all of my grandparents barely touches the surface of the blessings that having them so close to home gave me. I know so many of my students who have lost one or both of their parents; so for me to have had not only both of my parents, but all my grandparents and a set of great-grandparents was an incredible blessing indeed. I plan to write more about all of them throughout the course of this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Welcome to Rooted Heritage Genealogy! This blog is dedicated to both telling my ancestors' stories and to helping others to do the sam...