Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sad News, Good News

My dad's oldest sister called yesterday morning with some sad news. At first, my thoughts flew to my paternal grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year ago. But my aunt called to say that my 85-year-old granduncle, William Bryan ROBBINS, Jr., had passed away that morning. He was the second child of my paternal great-grandparents, William Bryan ROBBINS, Sr. (of Polar Bear fame on this blog) and Marie LEWIS, and a veteran of World War II (U.S. Army Air Corps), Korea, and VietNam (U.S. Air Force). I'll be looking for an obituary online for him the next few days and share it when I find it.

I know that I met Uncle Bill when I was very little, but I have no memories of him. I believe that he and his family were living in Texas and New Mexico when I was older and made trips to visit family in Michigan. So I don't necessarily feel a personal loss; just a sadness that another of my beloved grandfather's siblings have passed away (Uncle Jack died just last July). Only the youngest, a widowed grandaunt, much younger than the rest of her siblings, survives of that family group.

Some good genealogy news that occurred yesterday was the arrival of a huge package of documents and photographs that my dad's middle sister shipped to me after doing some cleaning at her mother's place last week (her mother is my paternal grandmother, the one with Alzheimer's mentioned above). Most of the contents are modern photos, which although that may sound disappointing to those interested in family history, I now have a glimpse into the retirement years of my paternal grandparents, plus dozens and dozens of recent photos of my cousins and their children, as well as photos of my grandfather's siblings and their descendants. Because I so rarely see my relatives, this is a blessing and treasure. There were also some items that were very old, as well as sentimental, that I hope to blog about later. The most touching was the card my late grandfather gave to my grandmother on their 50th anniversary in 1990. Upon opening it and seeing his familiar handwriting and the words of love and devotion, I burst into tears. My grandfather had a way of making everyone in his life--family members, friends, colleagues--feel very special. I'm sure each of his grandchildren felt certain that he or she was the most loved and cared for of all!


Thomas MacEntee said...


News does come in batches - sad and good. And I think it is touching that while the sad news didn't move you to tears, the good news did. Sometimes I think that is how I like it: I don't want people to cry over me when I've gone. Just laugh and cry over the experiences I shared.

Tex said...

I know how you feel. I didn't know all of my grandparents' siblings equally well, but now that they are all gone, it feel like a big hole in my life.

I'm glad you got the package of photos and the card soon thereafter. What treasures.

And they do seem to come in batches, don't they?

Janice said...


I think you have a good attitude about loss and gain. I am also intrigued that you called Mr. Robbins your "grand-uncle." I know that term is correct, however where I come from that relationship is called a "great-uncle." I wonder which of the two terms the other genea-bloggers prefer.


Miriam Robbins said...

Thank you all for your kind words.

Janice, I prefer the terms "granduncle" and "grandaunt" even though I was brought up to say "great-uncle" and "great-aunt." I believe the first terms are British. They convey a better understanding of the family relationships: a granduncle is a grandparent's sibling, and a great-grandaunt is a great-grandparent's sibling. It just makes better sense!