Sunday, June 19, 2016

Found: Long Lost Cousin...a Father's Day Story

Well, actually...she found me.
So I guess I should be thankful for my unusual maiden name which is Billheimer.
When I was a teenager, I used to dread telling people my whole name...
 D-e-b-b-y    B-i-l-l-h-e-i-m-e-r... 
I thought it sounded SO uncool and that it had too many b's when you said it all together.
Go ahead...try it and see how it sounds.
See what I mean?
~
Anyway, this post didn't start out to be a Father's Day post at all.
It just so happened that I kept putting it on the back burner but if I hadn't done that,
the story wouldn't have turned out to be so cool!
If you are so inclined to read to the end, it will all make sense...I promise :)
~
It all started a few months back on Sunday, March 1, as I read my email that morning...
...the words long lost cousin were in the subject line.
I have cut and pasted the letter below.

Debby,
I was reading some old letters of my mother's and it led me to doing some research on some members of our family, which eventually led me to your blog.  When I first read the page on the musical ability and your family, I knew we had to be cousins. Then I looked at the page you dedicated to your mother, and I actually recognized her picture from a reunion that my mother and I attended (and two of my brothers and my own daughter and grand-daughter) back in 1996 at the Troy park.   Mom died in 1997. 

I am Sharon Billhimer Nale, my mother was Hazel Billhimer, my father was Emil Billhimer. We grew up in Troy Ohio. There were seven of us children: Keith (deceased in 1977), Jim (deceased in 2011), Tommy (deceased in 1994), Joe (now 78), Deanna (now 74), Sharon- me- aged 71, and our youngest brother Ken, only 70!

I am so eager to begin a correspondence with you and to share family history information. I only hope that you also wish to share such information. I will wait until I hear from you to make sure we have made a connection. I am thanking God for leading me to you,  and praying for your enthusiasm on the other end of this letter.

Sharon

P. S. Here is a pic of Elma at Hazel Billhimer Brown’s 100th birthday a few years back.  I think. Correct?

This photo was added at the end of her email...it is my mom and my oldest sister, Lois.
According to Sharon, she had been present at my dad's older sister's 100th birthday party.
I'm sure if Mom was still here on this earth, she (and certainly Lois as well) would say...
"Oh my goodness....what a picture!"
It's pretty obvious that they didn't pose for it :)

As Sharon named these members of her family, I was absolutely blown away.
Her father, Emil and my dad were first cousins, best friends and partners in crime...
...well, not really crime but I remember so well hearing my dad tell of their many crazy antics!
Here is one of the many photos she shared with me through facebook.
I have put it next to a photo of my dad to show the resemblance.

Sharon's dad, Emil Billhimer                                   My dad, Joe Billheimer

My grandfather, Solomon Billhimer, who passed away the year I was born,
and Sharon's grandfather, Ezra Billhimer were brothers.
Notice the difference in the spelling of the last name.
Somewhere along the line, a family member must have decided to drop the 'e'...
...which my guess is probably the original German spelling of the name.
I will bet that Sharon knows the reason why it was changed...I'm just guessing here.
Sharon also has a brother named Joe and I remember as a little girl thinking how cool it was
that there was another Joe Billhimer...and that this one had dropped the 'e'.


Here's a photo of him and I think he bears a striking resemblance to my dad too!
I may have tiny fragmented memories of Joe and also of her sister, Deanna,
who was close with my oldest sister, Lois, but I don't remember Sharon (sorry, Cuz).
Were you hiding somewhere?? {smile}

So anyway, as Sharon stated in her email to me, she had come across my other blog,
where I have written about some of my childhood memories.
After we made the connection through email, we quickly found each other's facebook pages
and proceeded to connect all of our siblings to each other as well.

Fast forward to the beginning of last week.

I don't regularly visit my other blog unless I have written a new post (which isn't often),
but you know those facebook memories that pop up daily on our newsfeed?
One of mine was from a couple of Father's Days ago,
 where I had posted a story about Dad from my other blog...
it was about him being able to blow the fire (heat) out of burns to the skin.
Sharon had read this and left a comment which of course went into my email.
This had been at the very end of February and she had emailed me on March 1st.

The plot thickens....

So...if you are still with me, I'm about to let you in on the best part.
I bet right now most of you are saying "Any day now!"

This time when I clicked on the link to my post and read the comments,
I noticed that there was a link back to Sharon...this cousin of mine started her own blog!
A couple of days before she emailed me, she had written about how it all came about.
I didn't know all of these details about how she actually found me until this past week.
You could have knocked me over with a feather as I read her post (below).
She has given me permission to copy and paste it

~**~**~**~**~**~**~**~**~
Genetically Hardwired
I was researching my family on the Internet.  Two weeks ago I found the obituary of my cousin quite accidentally. I had just texted her on the day of her death, the very day the obituary went on line. I had spoken to her by phone the week before.We had been exchanging family history for the past several years. Had I not found that obituary, I most likely never would have known what happened to her. She only has one daughter, and that daughter never had children. That daughter has never stayed in touch with our branch of the family, and has never shown a desire  to know us. I was greatly saddened about that, but I understand it's fairly common among families. I have tried to contact this cousin, but no response. The Internet has not been helpful in the usual ways of locating her, but I am hopeful.

Tonight, I quite accidentally (or serendipitously) came across a blog which I believe connects me to another cousin.  This blog was about a musical family. As I read it, I realized it had to be a cousin of mine. This blogger wrote about her mother, and I recognized the picture. She wrote about her father, and I recognized his picture! She wrote about family superstitions, and I recognized our own family superstitions! Things like "the seventh son of the seventh son "having special medical abilities such as "blowing the fire out" or healing burns.  My mother was given the special Biblical words/verses to recite from the seventh son of the seventh son in her family line.  She has passed it onto my brother, who is the seventh child, though not the seventh son.  He tells me he forgot what the Bible verse was that she whispered to him that day many years ago.

I will interrupt Sharon's post here to insert a link to my post that she is referring to.

Well, the blogger's mother and father are now deceased, and my own mother and father are also deceased. But I am certain this woman and I are cousins. I have written to her tonight, and though she lives in North Carolina and I live in Ohio, I am still certain we are related. The fact that her family experiences mirror my own family experiences so much makes me think we are come from the same gene pool! We are so very similar it gives me chills and fills me with awe. How can this be? 

I cannot wait to hear from her, and I decided to start this blog to share what happens from this point on. I have never done a blog before, but I am certain that this one, provided we both live long enough, will bring us an unusual, extraordinarily enriching relationship- and perhaps others will enjoy reading about this miracle that the internet has made possible.

Below are some of the folks who I believe are links in our family tree.  Mostly likely they are cousins of this blogger and me. When I get her permission, IF I get her permission, I will identify her, and with her help, possibly identify also the folks whose pictures are displayed below, taken at a reunion 14 years ago.

Yes, it was I who took the pictures, and yes, I had no idea who these folks were. I just went around snapping, and hoped to learn their names as the picnic progressed.  I never did, sadly.  I got cornered by other family members and the time passed before I learned identities.  

(my mom)
(my brother, Jerry)
(Jerry's wife, Elaine)

Anyway, please stay tuned and check in from time to time, because this may be quite an exploration.


Grouped together, just right of center are Mom and all four of my sisters: Lois, Ruby, Janet and Barbara and brother, Jerry. 


I think I may have attended one other family reunion from this branch, but maybe not. I more often attend reunions of the other side of the family on my mother's line. My father's line stopped having the reunions for some reason. That's sad too. The times are changing for many of us, mobile as we are, moving here to there and all over. Reunions are harder to attend.

This is her post after she made contact with me.

Joy in Mudville
Mar 1, 2016

Well, the contact has been made.  I have texted with two of the cousins so far.  I uploaded quite a few pictures. There is excitement from their end, and from our end. I say OUR end, because I immediately called both brothers and my sis and let them know of this fantastic find.

Seems their branch of the tree and our branch ALL have some of the same inherited tendencies.  Musical, magical healing powers, inventing, hardworking, mischievous, and more.  My father looks like their father, though they were only cousins.  I hardly know where to go from here. I don't want to make a pest of myself.  I am waiting for something from their end.

I thought I'd dream about them all last night, but I didn't.  I bet dreaming is a part of their lives, too! Many of my sibs dreamed, and remembered them.

I think my branch wins on the poverty side of the story.  Mostly because my parents divorced after 13 years and 7 kids.  Their mom and Dad stayed together.  That impacts greatly economically and is far-ranging in other effects.

What I am most interested in is comparing genetic tendencies.  I have always believe that our shyness was inherited because so many of us were plagued it.  Three of us at least, out of 7.

The same applies to the musically innate qualities, playing by ear, etc.  That applies to 3 of us out of 7.

More to come, but I must get my rest and prepare for a root canal tomorrow. That's another thing I want to check out.  Are their teeth as bad as ours on our branch of Billhimers?   I tell anyone who will listen my teeth were hard-wired to be bad.  I think this applies to 6 of us 7.

I also want to check out heart disease on their line of Billhimers.  Ours has a dreadful record. Mother? Check!  Father? Check. Keith? Check!  Jim? Check!  All died from heart problems. Sharon?Check! Joe and Ken and I all high blood pressure. I have arrhythmia. Joe wears a pacemaker. Aunts and uncles have the same kinds of records both on mom's side and daddy's side, though the two girls of the family lived into their 80's.  My Dad and a sib(male) died of heart disease.  Grampa had heart problems, suffered a stroke and died. Gramma lived into her 90's.  I want to know about THEIR grampa (my great uncle Solomon) and gramma.

Maybe one of them will find this blog and read it and answer?

~**~**~**~**~**~**~**~**~

So that's about it...unfortunately, I cannot be that person who answers her questions...
I don't know half of these people and I can't remember the other half!
Maybe some of my older brothers and sister can enlighten her somewhat.
As what so often happens, the years and miles separated many of us.
With a name like Billheimer...or Billhimer, it's pretty easy to look up our ancestry, I assume.
But it's still nothing short of amazing how these two families found each other after so many years.
There is no doubt that God Himself had His hands all over it.

Oh, and before I forget...


...this is Cousin Sharon.

She will no doubt be celebrating Father's Day the same as I do now...
...the way any of us do after we have lost our dads.
But we never lose the memories, do we?
We celebrate by honoring their memory by talking about them...
 ...telling and re-telling old familiar stories that really never get old at all.
And of course, never forgetting the impact they had on our lives.
I know my dad lives on in my heart and I cherish his memory always and forever.
This is just a short segment of a video I made for my family after my dad passed away.
I hope you take a few minutes to watch it.


So, if you're still with me and if you are blessed enough to still have your father around, 
tell him you love him..or better yet...GO GIVE HIM A BIG HUG!

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, 
that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land 
which the LORD your God gives you. ~Deuteronomy 5:16

31 comments:

  1. That was such a heart warming story on a such a beautiful day. I have just got back from giving my Dad a great big hug, I am blessed that I was able to do that. Take care.

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  2. That is great that you have been able to connect with family via the Internet. I found a distant relative in Canada a number of years ago who had a striking resemblance to my dad when he was younger. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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  3. This an amazing post! Wonderful that your cousin contacted you, the two brothers look very much alike. God bless our families!

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  4. What an amazing turn of events. So happy that she "found" you! Happy Father's Day weekend and God bless as you remember your Dad fondly.

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  5. WOW! That is quite the story.It is amazing to see how God works behind the scenes to bring you together.

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  6. one good thing social media and the internet has produced is the amazing connections you can find and refind. :)

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  7. Oh my goodness, Debby - this is beyond neat! what a miracle - esp as our family's elders dwindle and as we age.....this was meant to be! Sharon is so neat too and I know you two have much to learn from one another. Should you ever go to Troy hit me up in Columbus,Ohio on the way to rest up for the 2 hours it takes from me to Troy.

    Keeping all of your family tree line in my prayers.

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  8. I read most of this....being honest. I was reminded of His faithfulness to all generations.

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    1. Thank you Anita...and yes, He is faithful!

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  9. Wonderful! For encouragement, I will be sharing your inspiring post with my 'cousins'. We have a FB group and share our research as we go along.
    P.S. Your family sounds so similar to mine its uncanny.

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  12. I loved the video and the song and the whole story! Just amazing and so very cool. And it's nice to find others who love family history. I wonder if you two will ever meet? It's so good you wrote this all down for future generations too!

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  13. How exciting for all of you. I'm a member at ancestry.com and have had a lot of fun creating family tress. It's truly amazing how we can find those special links to our histories.

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  14. Great to have found a lost relative.

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  15. Oh I loved this story! Sharon is a pretty second cousin. Just so cool how it all worked out. I hope that you are able to piece together some wonderful family stories...what fun you will have! Is it time for a reunion? Off to listen to your video. It's gonna make me cry, I just know it.

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    1. Okay, I got that right! What a treasure and what a cute ending for your video.

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  16. Hi Debby, what a wonderful story. Heart warming and fascinating. We just never know the direction our lives can go bringing people together. So excited for you both to have found each other. I sure hope you get to meet soon.
    Blessings. xo

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  17. Debby, how wonderful. It will be interesting to read where things go from here.

    Diana

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  18. Debby, that was an interesting read! I love hearing stories like this and I'm so glad that you and Sharon found each other after all the years going by. I have cousins I've never met as well and it will never happen now as I don't know their names. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  19. What a great story! The resemblance between your dad and Sharon's dad is amazing!

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  20. Lovely story. It's nice to pass on to the next generations. :)
    Happy Father's Day to all the important men in your life.

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  21. What an amazing story, all those relatives you didn't know you had. How wonderful to be able to join some of those dots in your family tree. I loved the video of your dad and that lovely song, it is so very touching.

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  22. Hi Debby - what an interesting post. I can imagine the excitement at connecting with other family members. How great that you and Sharon found each other.
    My dad was here on Father's Day and I was glad I could give him a big hug!

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  23. What a great story about finding Nemo, I mean a long lost cousin LOL
    I have tried to reconnect with a long lost cousin and we corresponded for a while then she just quit sending my yearly Christmas Card just signed Donna

    Donna was my Baker grandparents first grandchild and of course she was special to them, her parents divorced back in 1950's and she was never allowed to visit our grandparents ever again. when she was about 60 I located her. However she felt no connection so I haven't heard from her for years she lives in Gainsville Florida

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  24. I've been missing in blogland lately, but I'm playing catch-up today. Loved your story. I'm still looking for my rich uncle. Wink.

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  25. Oh my gosh...I read the whole thing! What an incredible story. I have cousins on my father's side that have always STAYED AWAY. Never knew why, but like you, understand that's just how some people are.

    Than you for sharing with us Debby...just in awe here!

    Hugs...

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  26. What a wonderful post. You didn't say if the two of you have actually met yet? About 12 years ago I reconnected with a cousin of mine. We didn't get to actually meet until about 5 years later but we have become the best of email pals. I hope your experience continues to go well!

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  27. Oh my goodness, Debby!! That is an amazing story! You know, alongside the pitfalls of social media, there are some really wonderful things that happen. And your story certainly points out the wonders of *connection* that can happen! My family has stayed close throughout the years, though as cousins (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) were added, the lines of communication might not be so strong. But, to have a cousin reconnect like this - out of the blue - well, it's so cool!!

    I look forward to hearing more about the stories you and your cousin will share. She sounds like a wonderful person - after all, she has a great name!!

    GOD BLESS!

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  28. Amazing...I see everyone is using that word! I sat here with a cup of coffee and enjoyed reading this whole story. You have lots to look forward to. It's such fun to share memories with someone that knows other family members. Yay for the internet! Hugs, Diane

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Thank you for stopping by today! Your sweet comments are such an encouragement to me.

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