Family Stories

These posts, more than the others, are about the heart and soul of my family.

Born to Run

I have lots of photos of my father’s mother. Portraits of her as a child. Portraits of her as a young woman. Portraits of her with her twin babies. Then snapshots of her with family, with friends over the years. … Continue reading

Stories My Father Never Told Me

Mine is not a family of storytellers. I don’t know what my father did in World War II. I don’t know if his heart skipped a beat the first time he saw his future wife, my mother. I don’t know … Continue reading

The Only Photo of My Mother’s Childhood

Mine is not a family of photographers. We don’t click pictures of every party or parade. We don’t all put on white shirts and jeans to sit on rocks at the beach for annual family portraits. We don’t even usually … Continue reading

Should I Display This Photo?

A few days ago I wrote about all the strange emotions I felt when I saw the first photo of my mother as a child. I showed the picture before, but I’ll show it here again. After editing the photo … Continue reading

My Mother’s Special Drawer

My mother had her own drawer as a child. With a family of 12 in a four-bedroom farmhouse that’s all she could get, one drawer. But she didn’t feel deprived, she felt special. The way she put it was, “My … Continue reading

I Never Loved Her More

Snow came the night we reached  Shenandoah in late December, 1968, after driving night and day from Southern California to make it while there was still time. It lay shining on the fields in the light of a full moon, glistening on the trees, then falling softly before the headlights, and whipped into small furies by … Continue reading →

Francis Otto Eggleston series

Francis Otto Eggleston, “A Poetic and Romantic Boy”

F.O.E. Chapter 1: I never met my great-grandfather, Francis Otto Eggleston, a distinguished-looking gentleman with enormous, liquid eyes who, even at 89, stood as straight as the ladder-back chair of his that I inherited. His nose was … Continue reading

A (Reluctant) Farm Boy in 1865

F.O.E. Chapter 2: Francis Otto Eggleston, my great-grandfather, was a medical doctor first, then a Methodist minister, a Unitarian minister, and finally, in his later years, newspaper columnist. But he didn’t consider himself a Renaissance man. He thought of himself instead as a man who made many poor choices before … Continue reading

Left Behind When a Parent Dies

F.O.E. Chapter 3: I wrote a few days ago about typhoid fever’s sad visit to the Eggleston home in 1864. In that post I did not project myself into the heartbreak that befell the family. Now I’m thinking of the family that was left behind. How their brand new home felt infinitely empty, the rooms devoid of joy, the air sucked out, the sunlight an intruder on the family’s grief.  Continue reading→

Not a Free Spirit, Yet His Mind Wandered Free

F.O.E. Chapter 4 – Francis Eggleston spent his childhood on an Ohio farm, in an era when it was common for parents to take their children out of school after the fourth grade, or to skip sending them to school altogether. Francis’s family was different. For grammar school they sent their two boys to the “District School – all in one room from primer to as big as the teacher, but less learned.” Continue reading →

My Blue Ridge Mountain Home Evictions series

The Bluest of Ridges

My great grandparents lived above the Shenandoah Valley, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a stretch of peaks, gaps, glens, hollows, creeks, coves, falls, meadows, forests, thickets, and woodland that reaches from Georgia to Pennsylvania. The mountains are like frozen sells of the ocean, billions of tons of rock and soil blown into soft curves by an eternity of wind and rain, the oldest mountains in the world, and there’s just not that much left of them. Continue reading →

Blue Ridge in My Blood

Other states claim the Blue Ridge, especially North Carolina, but to me they belong to Virginia, and particularly to the Shenandoah Valley, and specifically to that section that lies between Massanutten and the Blue Ridge, the Page Valley. That’s mine. I own not a bit of it, but it is in my blood. More accurately, then, I am it’s. Continue reading

The Family Ties that Bind

Most Americans blow away from their family trees like fall leaves in a high wind. They drift to wherever jobs and prevailing winds take them, commence flying the local colors and rooting for their new local team, and forget any loyalties they ever had elsewhere, remembering family only as a holiday obligation. Continue reading →

Blue Ridge: Oh, How They Lived!

When things are our own, they tend to become a little more valuable, a little more beautiful, a little more precious. Just like we believe with our whole heart that our team is better, even if the score shows different, and we will defend them, and our belief in their superiority, to the end. Continue reading →

A Complex Tangle of Emotions

The Blue Ridge evictions were not so long ago. They happened within the lifetime of my mother, who is still alive, though she is the last of her family. She was 14 when her grandparents had to leave their Blue Ridge home, but has only a few memories of the event. Continue reading →

Blue Ridge: How Would I Like Eviction?

In 1934, all 465 families who lived in the future Shenandoah National Park were evicted from their homes. Many of my relatives were among them, including four of my great grandparents, and a great many uncles, aunts, and cousins, the McDaniels, Turners, Colliers, Meadows, and Mericas. But this part of the story is about the Colliers. Continue reading →

What Was Lost in the Blue Ridge

Every 14 days, somewhere in the world a tribal elder dies, the last of his or her kind, and with him goes his culture’s language, folklore, crafts, and beliefs. Half the world’s languages are in danger of disappearing in the next 90 years as children leave the old ways, wooed by bright lights and big cities. Continue reading →

What Really Happened?

Memory is a trickster, always pulling pranks and distorting what we think we know. When I was a tiny girl, no more than four years old, I remember our family driving from San Diego to Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles to see one of the first Dodgers games since they left Brooklyn. Continue reading →

Pearl Abigail Eggleston Berryman series

“Pearl can do without the necessities of life, as long as she has the luxuries.”

When Pearl Abigail Eggleston stepped out her front door and into the dusty, packed-dirt streets of 1900’s Chagrin Falls, Ohio, she wore white lace. Like a swan, she glided across Summit Avenue, delicately lifting the hem of her skirts just an inch and lengthening her… Continue reading →

She Would Follow Him Anywhere, Even Oklahoma

It turns out that Pearl Abigail Eggleston married a dreamer, much like her father, who had changed from physician to Methodist clergyman, to Unitarian clergyman, and finally to… Continue Reading →

Priscilla’s Silver Cup

Pearl Abigail Eggleston Berryman was not about to have her first baby on a farm somewhere out on the Oklahoma prairie. So she went home to her parents, and on August 7th of 1908, in a tidy Victorian home on a tree-lined street of… Continue reading →

She Swore to Never Have Another Child

Pearl (Peg) Abigail Eggleston Berryman had her beloved daughter, Priscilla. No matter how unsettled the rest of her life had become, no matter how many times she had to pull up stakes and move, no matter how many times her husband changed his chosen career, she… Continue reading →

Ladies Who Lunch: Costume Edition

Nine kindly little ladies on a lovely outing. That’s what I thought. Nine friends on a festive picnic, away from family duties for a few short hours of girlish giggles and shared secrets. They hiked their dresses and pulled each … Continue reading

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