September 23rd – Leawood, Part 1

     Today I met a very distant relative – a first cousin twice removed. Before leaving on this trip, I knew that my mom had a lot of relatives, but I only knew a few by name. So I called the ones that I did know and arranged to stop by and see them on my trip.

     One of those relatives – my Great Aunt Mary – told me that she keeps in close contact with three of her cousins, and encouraged me to contact them. I followed her advice and found that all three cousins were excited to meet me and also wanted to have me stay with them for a few days. I made arrangements with all of them, and today I met the first one! Her name is Ruth, and she lives in Leawood, which is a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas.

     Incidentally, I’ve found a wonderful resource as I’ve tried to piece together how my family members relate to me. It’s a website called Wolfram Alpha. I’ve used it in the past to solve math equations, but I found out recently that it also has a genealogy calculator. I just had to type “my great aunt’s cousin” into the search bar in the middle of the website’s homepage, and it told me that Ruth is my “first cousin twice removed.” That didn’t do much to clear things up for me, but the diagram that was displayed above the technical name did help to show how our common ancestry works out.

     The meeting with my first cousin twice removed went well.  To be more specific, it went well once I made it to the correct door. Somehow I managed to enter Ruth’s address into Google Maps incorrectly when I left Milford Lake this morning. My phone did its job and directed me perfectly to the address I’d entered, which was not Ruth’s address. Thankfully, no one was home at the address I went to, so my several knocks and rings of the doorbell went unnoticed. After a couple minutes of waiting, I called Ruth to ask if she was home. When she said that she was standing right outside her house waiting for me, I made the spectacular deduction that I was at the wrong address.

     Her house was only two blocks away from the incorrect address I’d found. I got back in the car and found it without difficulty. Now that I’d embarrassed myself before even meeting Ruth, the rest of the evening went wonderfully. We went for a walk, had dinner, and looked at some old family pictures that she had. She told me a lot of things about the parts of my family I didn’t know, and we both talked about our immediate families and our personal interests. Ruth has a daughter and two grandchildren that live nearby. I will get to meet them at lunch tomorrow, after we go to church. 

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