Monday, September 20, 2010

Memory Mondays: Pepa

Memory Mondays: A tradition I intend to solidify on my genealogy blog.  Every Monday, I will post a memory either of my own or of a family member.  I begin Memory Mondays out of thankfulness for my paternal grandfather's efforts in researching the Goodhart family history and thus the inspiration he effected for my own interest in genealogy and family history research.

The following is the eulogy I wrote and delivered at my grandfather's memorial service on Friday, December 11, 2009.  I wrote this eulogy just a few hours before the service.  I have made just a couple small changes, such as a date of genealogical significance, to reflect historical accuracy.

A Eulogy in Loving Memory of Frederick Wilson Goodhart

For the last thirty years, my grandfather has brought many treasured memories into my life.  Many of my memories include both my grandfather and my grandmother, so it is easiest to share many of my thoughts today to include both of them.

We all tend to have certain nicknames bestowed upon us by different people in our lives without our asking, and at a young age when my older brother was a toddler and was attaching names to the grandparents, it started with my grandmother - Mema, which is a traditional grandmother name in the Goodhart family.  But in my brother's toddler logic, he took the word "Mema" and gave my grandfather the name "Pepa."  When I came into the world, I continued my brother's naming choices.  "Pepa" is an unusual name for a grandfather, but that was my brother's and my gift for him, even if Pepa didn't ask for it.

I recall many wonderful get-togethers over the holidays for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Goodhart household at 224 South Main Street in North Wales, Pennsylvania, with Pepa at the head of the dinner table and Mema on the other side.  It was always nice when the family got together for our holiday dinners.  And the lively discussions and debates that we had over dinner certainly initiated some excitement, though meaningful, for various family members.  But these entertaining dinners are memories for which I am entirely grateful.  I recall after one particular family debate, when I first voiced my own opinions on the topic of the night, Pepa sat me down afterward and told me that he was proud of me for standing up for my thoughts, and that we live in a world where standing up for our beliefs is an exceptionally important trait to have.

I remember warm sunny vacation days at the condo in Ocean City, Maryland with Mema, Pepa, and my family.  The taste and aroma of crab meat still lingers in my senses today.  Eating crab was a Goodhart tradition, so I was informed, from when Pepa and my dad and uncle lived in Baltimore.  I miss Ocean City.

I am thankful that Pepa and Mema helped to pay for my way through private school at Norfolk Collegiate and college at Radford University, and I was so happy to be gifted with their presence at both my high school and college graduations.  Without Pepa's and Mema's assistance, I would not be where I am today in life.

One particular memory I have of Pepa is when I was about fifteen years old.  Pepa brought me up to his office and showed me printed pages several inches thick, full of thousands of names.  Pepa researched the Goodhart family history to such depth and detail, and this was the first time that he opened this magical world for me.  Pepa showed me all of these names of Goodharts - people's husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, sons, daughters, cousins - all truly numbering well over 1500 names that Pepa lifted off of pages that he copied down in courthouses and family research centers around the state for the last few decades.  And these names he himself brought forth into a pattern of the Goodhart family history.  Pepa traced the Goodhart family history all the way back to Germany in the late 1600's.  The first Goodhart to step foot on American soil was Heinrich Guthard in 1737 in the city of Philadelphia.  Our ancestry moved forward in time through the hills of Berks, Lancaster, and Lackawanna counties.  Farmers most of them were.  You see, Pepa planted a seed that day when I was fifteen.  A great passion - just three years ago, I chose to follow in Pepa's footsteps, to be not only the keeper but also the continual discoverer of our ancestry.  But not just the Goodhart ancestry, but also along all trees and branches of Mema's as well as my mother's side of the family.  I feel this is the greatest gift my grandfather gave to me.  In 2006, Pepa gave me access to the names, dates, places of birth, marriage, and yes, death - but most importantly, memories.  The memories of those 1500+ people will continue to live on.

There is a general concept about family history that goes like this: if your parents didn't meet up the way that they did and conceive you into the world; if each of your parents' parents did not come across each other perhaps one day spontaneously for the first time on a city street; if your parents' parents' parents didn't choose to board a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States - and so on and so on, you would not exist or at least not as you are.  And so I look at my family history, and I am thankful for every single ancestor - every single person.  But today, I am most grateful for my grandfather, Frederick Wilson Goodhart.  His legacy lives on in all of us, and will continue to do so for all of time.  Pepa, thank you for everything that you have given to me.  I love you, and I will always miss you.

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