Full circle

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

~ Arthur Ashe

Family reunion…of sorts

Meeting up with a long lost cousin

A year or so ago I found my step-cousin Milton on Ancestry. Receiving a response of any kind on that site often does not happen; I was pleasantly surprised when Milt sent a reply right away. Since then, he, my sister, and I have had a very nice, catch-up correspondence.

This past weekend my sister–standing between Milt and myself in the top photo–hosted a lawn concert. All Olson, Geier, and Appell cousins were invited. It was an end-of-the-summer musical bash (featuring local talent Ellen Whyte), something we all very much looked forward to attending. I could listen to Ellen all day, but another reason for our anticipation: Lynne, our mother Margaret (wearing the pink jacket, same photo), and I were about to meet up with Milton, the cousin we had not seen since 1978. That, and there was a tiny surprise on the agenda.

Where it all began

We don’t share DNA, but…

Our grandmothers worked together for the Sperry Flour Company in Tacoma and were very good friends. Here they are as co-workers in a 1927 company photo.

butterfield lalla and juanita haggie_while working at Sperry flour mill tacoma_marked

Juanita (Milt’s grandma) is standing in back at the far right; Lalla (my grandma) is beside her, bow tie around her neck.

It was a day of learning, too. Milt very graciously shared photo albums we had not previously seen. There were a few surprises. I did not know that all four, our biological grandparents, were friends.


Carl Geier, Juanita Haggie, Ed Haggie, Lalla Geier ~photo courtesy Milt Campbell

A few years later it all changed. Carl and Lalla divorced in 1933, and Juanita passed in 1949. At least part of that friendship flourished; in either 1950 or 1951, Lalla and Ed married. My father Rod and Milt’s mother Dolores became step-siblings, and Milt and I became step-cousins.

haggie_ed and lalla butterfield geier haggie_possible wedding photo.jpg

Lalla Butterfield Geier and Eddie Haggie

Full circle

Connections with the Appell clanย 

The fun did not stop with my father’s Geier/Haggie side. A couple of weeks ago Milt sent me copies of slides he’d been scanning. Amazingly, he’d discovered a collection from my parents’ wedding on August 3, 1957 (my mother is an Appell). By themselves the slides are a genealogist’s delight, yet I was drawn to a photo of an adorable little girl whom I recognized.

geier rod and marg wedding_is this susie price_3 aug 1957I knew my Appell cousin Tom would be at Lynne’s party. If my suspicion was correct, he would want to see this photo. There is an uncanny resemblance to Susie, Tom’s sister, who was born in 1954.

As I chatted nearby, whatever it was that made me turn towards Tom quickly revealed itself as one of those full circle, breath-taking, teary-eyed moments one never forgets. I saw a serious expression on Milt’s face and Tom wiping his eyes while holding the photo. I saw Tom hug Milt and my eyes started leaking. Bingo. The little girl in the photo is Susie, a precious reminder of life’s fragile nature. Susie was killed in an auto accident when she was 20 in 1975. Until Milt started scanning, no one had seen these photos.

olson_lawn concert_8 sept 2018_cousin event (57).JPG

Mom, Milt, and Tom

The power of connection

The road leads home

I believe several of us are thankful no one captured the eye leakage on film, but it was a day none of us will forget. Think about the path of this one photo and its power.

Milton has photos and slides, Milton and Karen reconnect, Milton shares photos of wedding, Karen spies cousin Susie, Lynne hosts lawn concert, Tom and Milt meet for the first time, photos are shared, and our world shrinks, just a teeny bit.ย 

Here are photos of our blessed day, as cousins reconnect and others meet for the first time; we strengthened our bond through the power of family. It might be a small world, but our circle just got a little larger.

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Why did I use the Arthur Ashe quote above? Sometimes doing what we can means the world to someone else.

olson_lawn concert_8 sep 2018_geier campbell cousin visit (8)

Me and cousin Miltie

Life is good. โค

  1. What a wonderful experience to meet ‘new’ couisns and fnd that you have so much in common…and to be able to share so much more information.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I never imagined my first cousin would meet and connect with my step-cousin. And, that photo! I’m still smiling. We just never know what a simple act of kindness can mean for another. Thanks for stopping by and for the follow. Have a great day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


      Thank you, Chris

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This made my eyes leak, again. I loved meeting Tom, N7GML. Love the pictures from that day. Thank You for including me. I need a copy of the Geier-Haggie photo. I missed that it was Ed and Juanita.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, there was significant leakage this past week. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your memory astounds me! You are most welcome, and I’m so glad we all had such a nice visit. We will repeat, some day. I’ll see about getting a better photo of the foursome for you. I am still not sure how to get the best photos when they are glued to the black pages. Working on that one. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. A very touching post and a gift for future generations of your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Liz. I was so happy two of my children could meet Milt. I never imagined that would happen. What a day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic post, it brought tears to my eyes…the AA quote was wonderful too! ~ Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always admired Arthur Ashe, and felt the quote was fitting. Thanks, Sharon


  5. Sometimes (not often) we get lucky and the person we are reaching out to is also as interested in his/her family history as we are and will respond.
    Great post, Karen. Love the pictures and especially liked your use of double headers throughout the article. Nice idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I feel lucky when I receive a response, but this one was much anticipated. I appreciate your comment on the headers. Using them breaks up the page (in a good way), but it also allows me to keep my thoughts flowing in the direction I want; helps me keep on track. Thanks for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also like to use headings to break up my posts which are usually a bit on the long side. But I’d never thought to use two together with the different levels of format. Stylish!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, Cathy! I am more inclined to read longer posts if they have breaks. Could that be my inner child? ๐Ÿ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful, mind blowing connection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Susan. I never imagined Milt would have unseen photos of my parents wedding, let alone my first cousin’s sister. That Tom and Milt could meet and connect was simply fabulous. Thanks for chiming in. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, that gave me goosebumps. What an amazing day that must have been. And I can only begin to imagine what Tom felt when he saw the photo of his sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had goosebumps all day; so many things happened with cousins, step-cousins, my mom, and my children, two of whom met Miltie, something I never imagined would happen. It was quite a moment when I realized the impact of that photo, saw the power of connection, not just between Milt and Tom but all of us. No one could have planned this sequence of events. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

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