11 November 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Veteran's Day 2015

Please also see my 2012 musing regarding looking at Veterans in a broader sense.

Daniel Beightler (1844 - 1925)

George Jeffrey (1858 - 1935)

John Cosgrove (1891 - 1971)
Robert Sprague Beightler (1892 - 1978)

Francis D Cosgrove (1923 - 1944)
Elmer Ill (1920 - 1980)

Daniel Barnes Cosgrove...the green light's on...

To all the veterans who've served to protect the freedoms we have today.

10 September 2015

Thankful Thursday - Krystine Lorenzana Cabalfin

Part of this post was first published on 9 September 2011; it has been slightly edited. Today is the ninth anniversary of Krystine's passing from our world. We finally can truly embrace her legacy; the beautiful children she left behind.
(CJ, Matthew and Emilyn with their 1st cousins Gigi and Mimi)
When most of us think of genealogy, I believe we think of it in a ‘far off’ way. Even when that genealogy includes putting our grandparents or parents ‘Died on’ date in that space in the software or on the sheet of paper, somehow we always think of the past. And even when we miss our Grannys and Grandpas (sadly, both my grandfathers died when I was an infant), I think there’s a nostalgia that goes along with it that somehow makes it feel OK.

Of course, anyone who goes back beyond even the mid 20th Century has seen plenty of death in their tree. It’s a simple fact to us, that there’ll be a date on that line, and that the date will make sense. But every once in a while, there’ll be one that tugs at your heart. The mom and baby that died the same day, or the siblings that die within days of one another due to illness. It is a fact that pre-20th Century parents dealt with on a regular basis: children and young people die.

But, in the late 20th Century, and certainly in the 21st Century, especially in the developed world, fewer and fewer children die. We’re so blessed to live in a country that, for the most part, is a safe place for us to live.  Modern medicine, sanitation, clean water and safe sources of food have increased our life expectancy significantly.

Then there’s the day that you can never quite get right in your head. The day that changes how you look at life, and love, and the way you fit in the world. For me, that day was September 10, 2006. It was a Sunday, and my parents were over because we were going to take them out to celebrate their wedding anniversary, September 11th. The phone rang, my sister-in-law’s phone number showed on the caller ID, and because my husband was busy, I picked it up. I can still hear her voice in my head, incomprehensible words through screams and cries, “Krystine’s dead.”
Krystine, 2000

I could write pages and pages about the minute details of that day; for as crummy a memory as I have, the details of that day are crystal clear. I won’t do that, or at least I’ll try not to. But I do want to share some things with you, if you’ll indulge me.

Krystine Summer Lorenzana Cabalfin was my niece. She was the daughter of Edgar and Crisel Lorenzana, my husband’s oldest brother and his sister-in-law. She was a precocious little girl, and a vibrant young woman. She was the quintessential ‘social butterfly’ with an incredible array of friends and a very tight knit, though far strewn, family. At her funeral, when discussing who she was with the priest who would provide her eulogy, I described her as the family’s Social Director. She would’ve taken that title, willingly. Most importantly I considered Krystine not only my niece; she was a confidant and friend.

Krystine was married to Jose Cabalfin in January, 2001. Christopher Joel Cabalfin was born in 2001, and his little brother Matthew Ryan followed in 2002. The role of ‘Mom’ took a while for Krystine to manage; she was challenged with lots of what I called “loving interference” from the older women in the family. But when her daughter Emilyn was born, in 2005, Krystine had finally grown into her role as mother, wife, student, friend, and Ate (a Filipino word).

I like to tell the story of the last time I saw Krystine, because I find a lot of comfort in it. We were celebrating her older brother’s birthday; Edgar Jr, who we all call Jay-R, was celebrating his 29th birthday on September 2nd so we all got together at my in-laws.  Krystine was there with her family, and as the youngest, she was ‘working’ the party, preparing food, filling dishes, running errands, etc. all while trying to fulfill her role as the Social Director, Mom and Friend. It wasn’t going well…LOL. I came into the little kitchen and asked if I could help her wash the dirty dishes and she happily accepted. As we stood at the sink, shoulder to shoulder in the cramped space, she began to share with me how she was feeling about some of the things going on in her life, and as I normally did, I tried to make her feel she had the strength to handle it all. Because I knew she did. We were interrupted and she was called away, and hours later, as the party was winding down, Cas and I prepared to leave. I found Krystine, gave her a big hug and, as she squeezed me tightly, I said, "I love you, Tin" and she replied, "I love you too, Auntie Laura." Those are the last words she said to me. I treasure them like the gift they are, and I can smile, even with a sad heart when I think of her, because we shared that moment. 

Krystine died the morning of September 10, 2006. She died when her heart stopped beating while she was sleeping. There were many questions regarding her death because of her age and the fact that many in her family were/are in the healthcare profession. And none of us were prepared to lose her so soon, to put that date in that space in the software. As I scanned her funeral card, I was surprised at it’s simplicity. Because Tin was everything but simple. She was a shining light, a mother, a wife, a daughter, an Ate…and she was my friend.

23 August 2015

Sentimental Sunday - Cemeteries Around the World

Way back at the end of February 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to my husband's country of birth: the Philippines. For those who don't know it, the Philippines is a group of about 7,000 islands that falls between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean with Taiwan to its north and Malaysia to its south. The 7,000 islands comprise about 116,000 square miles (300,000 square kms) and hold nearly 100 million people. (In comparison, the U.S. has 325 million people in 3.9 million square miles). In many ways, the Philippines are as widely varied as the U.S.; the southern islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, while the north holds verdant mountains that seem to come right out of the sea. One of my very favorite pictures from our trip was taken as we dipped our toes in the South China Sea after a day of sightseeing in the city of Vigan:

Jade, Manang Cel, David, Cas and Auntie Delia, South China Sea. From private collection of L C Lorenzana
Of course, while we were there, I was trying to capture my husband's family stories and get as much documentation as possible. I had NO idea what a herculean effort it would be. My husband's maternal side is from the northern, and largest, island: Luzon. It has rugged mountains, but also some of the most fertile farmland. Crops are rotated: rice, onions, corn. That's right; I couldn't get over seeing the dichotomy of fields of corn with palm trees! (yeah, yeah, I know, get to the cemeteries...). Cas's home town of Tagudin is in the province of Ilocos Sur. The house Cas grew up in (he emigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old) is in the barangay of Cabulanglang, which is more or less near the center of the town. 

After hitting brick wall after brick wall in trying to get information from Cas's relatives ("So, when's your father's birthday?"..."I don't know."..."You don't know when your parents were born? [incredulously]" ..."No."[As if, 'why the heck would I need to know THAT?!']) I asked Cas's Auntie Delia to take me to the local cemetery. I'd been hearing about it for several days and wanted to get the chance to take pictures so I'd have SOMETHING to go by as I tried to build the maternal side of Cas's family tree. 

As with lots of things in the Philippines, the cemetery is quite lovely as you approach: 

But then the front looks like this:

Well, I'm not sure how to explain my experience. From the moment I walked into the cemetery, I felt a little disoriented and...pulled in every which direction. Here's why:

Yep, this is what much of the cemetery looks like. As I found out from Auntie Delia, the plots are purchased and it's up to the family to 'manage' them. There's no space in between the plots, and as we found out, if you don't know exactly where someone is buried (i.e., you go there all the time to be able to memorize the maze of crypts, crosses, stones, etc.) well, you're pretty much out of luck. That's right, Auntie Delia had no clue where the family plot was located, so I just started snapping pictures:

More than once I got a warning from both Cas and Auntie Delia not to wander too far; I kept reminding myself I was in a place halfway around the World and that kidnappings are not unheard of (honestly, there wasn't a time that I didn't feel completely safe). But how else was I going to be able to document my trip? We got to the center of the cemetery and found it more...accessible:

Anyway, I was able to locate a number of the names in Cas's family, and then realized that there were relatively few that weren't the names I'd heard. Uh oh... 

As it turns out, most of people we were looking for were right on the exterior of the cemetery, along the wall:

Cas's beloved grand aunt Melchora "Charing" Bunoan; she's the one we really wanted to see and pay our respects to (and were so happy to find her in a neat and tidy crypt). As I was to learn, her father, Graciano, was quite the lady's man. Graciano had his first child at the age of 20 and his last at the age of 70. He's a story all his own. 

As for the cemetery, I have a catalog of pictures of empty crypts, broken stones, etc. I also have quite a few well tended spots. Auntie Delia told us that on November 1st, everyone comes out and there's a big, annual clean up. There's a picnic and many people pitch in to help make the cemetery look nice. This was a unique opportunity, and I certainly hope to get the chance to go back and spend a bit more time locating our loved ones.

Where's the most interesting cemetery you've been in?