Sunday, April 15, 2018

Passages: Alfred Joseph Austin, Jr., 1947-2018

AJ Austin

Another one of my mother's brothers - Alfred Joseph Austin, Jr. - passed away last month on March 12th, in Lillington, North Carolina. He was 70 years old and I had not seen my "Uncle Al" in several years. He retired to North Carolina and I believe the last time we got together was in the summer of 2003 at my Uncle Jerry's home in Fleischmanns, New York. This was while my mother was still alive.

You can read the obituary for AJ Austin at the O'Quinn-Peebles-Phillips Funeral Home website by clicking here.

© 2018, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Passages: Josephine Eleanor Austin DeStefano, 1937-2017

Thomas MacEntee (l) and Joe'l DeStefano (r)
Chicago, IL - August 2016

One of my mother's sisters with whom I was quite close just passed away this Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Known as "Joe'l" - a shortening of her given and middle names Josephine and Eleanor - Joe'l DeStefano (Austin) was much like all of the Austin girls including my mother Jacqueline.

I remember my Aunt Joe'l's flaming red hair; her husband, my Uncle Jerry, and their children; the tiny apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey; and all the Italian food! We often spent weekends with them after a two hour drive down from "the mountains."

I also remember the summers we spent at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and when she'd come to visit me in Washington, DC. I last saw her in August 2016 when she came out to Chicago for my wedding celebration.

How can you put into words how much you'll miss someone and how painful it is to see your the oldest generation in your family slip away?

You can read the obituary for Josephine Eleanor DeStefano in the Asbury Press (New Jersey) by clicking here.

© 2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I Give Thanks - 2016 Edition

I Give Thanks - 2015 Edition - by Thomas MacEntee

It's that time once again for this year's edition of I Give Thanks. As I do each year around Thanksgiving, I am looking back at my life in 2016 and everything for which I am thankful.

So far 2016 has offered me blessings and opportunities that have gone way beyond my expectations. Again, I continue to work hard, treat people the way I want to be treated, try to live an authentic life and a life marked by abundance. This year, I give thanks for . . .
  • My Creator who knows my name, every hair on my head and every cell in my body. And despite what others may say, each day I celebrate that I am a child of G_d, that death has no shadow, and I choose to live in the light.
  • My family, including my ancestors, whose efforts, perseverance as well as their mistakes and failures, helped bring me forth. I owe my life to them.
  • My country where I can enjoy many freedoms and I hope never to take them for granted. And a huge thank you to the men and women in all branches of the US military who work and fight to keep those freedoms for us all.
    • The ability to get out of bed each morning, of my own will and strength; the ability to dress myself and cook for myself and family. There are many who can't do the simple things that each day I take for granted. I also thank the caregivers who help those who struggle with these daily tasks.
    • The wisdom to understand the difference between what I must do and what I want to do. Most days I am truly blessed, for they are the same.
    • For my health. I have lost an amazing 110 pounds since July 2015 from a bariatric operation that has saved my life.
    • That I live in a time and place where I can be who I am.  And I can accept others as they are.  And I can voice an opinion.  And I can listen to the views of others.
    • The knowledge that ABUNDANCE and the ability to let go is a true blessing. My mother, a wise woman if there ever was one, once told me: "Let go of what you are holding on to. Only then can your palm be open and face up to receive the next good thing coming your way." Words I live by each and every day.
    • The desire to play the entire keyboard that is life, not just the most common keys.
    • My husband of almost 17 years who celebrates me at my best and still loves me at my worst. He appreciates that: I've never been on America's Most Wanted, that I've never owned anything Hello Kitty, that I can find Waldo almost every time, and he loves it when I'm opinionated. He knows I would follow him anywhere, and that I have. And we both know that it just gets better every year.
    • A vibrant and generous community of genealogists and family historians including those I only know in the online world. Each and every day you challenge me to look at genealogy from new perspectives, you share your knowledge and resources without a second thought, and you encourage me to get back up and do the genealogy dance despite bouts of occasional ill-conceived reasoning and mistakes.
    • The family of fellow genealogy bloggers: how they inspire me, how they challenge me, and how they make me think.  They are more than just a group of memory gatherers: they animate facts such as birth dates and death dates; they bring to life how their ancestors lived and loved; and they often share the personal, from reflections to feelings, from past to present.
    • A career in genealogy and family history, doing what I absolutely love.
    • Knowing that the greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think. And that only dead fish go with the flow.
    • A roof over my head and a meal on the table each and every day in 2016. I'd like to do this one again in 2017, please.
    • The friends and loved ones who have passed on this year and what their lives meant to me.
    • A universe that bends towards justice.
    • And to my mother. I can never say thank you enough to the woman who brought me into this world and to someone from whom I learned life's lessons.  Mom gave me my work ethic, my sensitivity, my love of learning.  We didn't always agree, but she also let me know that was okay too.  She also taught me how to say, "Thank You."
    I give thanks.

    © 2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.