Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Visit to the Neck

GillsMy mother's brother was 89 and had been in poor heath for some time; so his death could not be called unexpected. Yet for me it was hard to grasp. He had always seemed a larger than life character, so very full of himself. I am confident that everyone who met him has a story about the time he did this or did that. He is on the left in this photo with my grandfather and his brother, about 1920.

Unlike my mother, who was too weak to attend the funeral, his mind was clear to the last. A couple of years ago at his wife's funeral of he reminded me of events from my childhood over 50 years earlier. Some of my earliest memories are of following him around my grandmother's farm as he did chores. I remember feeling so grown up when he let me ride on the tractor with him. I looked forward to helping carry slop to the hogs somewhat less. As I grew up I saw him less an admirable role model, but to the end he was always a force to be reckoned with, now someone to miss.

One of those spring cold fronts was moving into Virginia as I headed north to pick up my sister. But we reached the chapel with time to spare. The chapel, now owned by a local funeral home, was once a church co-founded by my great-great grandfather; behind it lie generations of relatives. Although the temperature had been dropping all morning with light drizzle, it was not until we headed outside toward the gravesite that the skies opened up. By now the temperature was in the 40's and the rain was coming down sideways. I stood with my umbrella behind my cousins trying to block the rain from coming underneath the tent, to little effect. Graveside remarks were brief. My uncle would have enjoyed it all.

After the service my sister and I escorted a family of distant relatives to my grandmother's home, now part of a subdivision and owned by a nice woman who gave us a tour. Then, while my sister visited with our cousins, I split off to meet with a local surveyor. I had hired him to do some work for my family on a lot we own in that sub-division, but now I needed to talk with him about a separate five acre parcel my mother co-owned with her late brother. I had been unable to reconcile the description of the parcel on the 1919 deed and its location on the current county tax map. The Q&D title search I had conducted at the local courthouse some months earlier had turned up more questions than answers; we needed professional help.

The surveyor gave me good news; he believed the lot still existed. It had not be surveyed out of existence. Things like that happen, much to the delight of the legal profession. It was just not where the tax map indicated. However he said that the parcel is landlocked; it has no designated right-of-way. After all these years obtaining that right-of-way now could be tricky. I told him to hold off doing anything else until I talked with my cousins. This will get interesting and there will certainly be a post or two about this coming up.

By now almost dry, I met my sister and our family of distant relatives for dinner at a local restaurant, a recently restored Hotel/Tavern. I was hungry and the food was good. We then drove back to my sister's. I slept well. Which, as it turned out, was a good thing. I had a big day coming up.

Next, tales from the other side of the family...

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