Tag Archives: family

The Great Resignation

18 Jun

I got a letter from LinkedIn saying, “Experts are predicting a ‘Great Resignation’ due to people wanting to move on and try something new.” Considering I’m ahead of the curve, I found this rather interesting, and it shows how resistant people are to taking away their “rights.”

I could go on about the collapse of commercial real estate, or newly remote workers fleeing expensive areas like San Francisco and New York City, but I’m more interested in the resistance to “returning to normal.” I’ll use my new job. One of the reasons I specifically took this job was because after three years working remotely, I desperately wanted a desk. (You can read more about my decision, it’s more complicated.) When the COVID hit over a year ago, my co-workers told me how sad they were that they had to work from home–this was such a radical change from their normal existence. Now that they’re shifting back to the office, there’s a massive push back from my co-workers about returning to their desks.

At the same time, my boss’ boss is doubling down on “You have to be at your desk!” She is resistant to having her employees continuing to work all the time from home. Even with the resistance that is obvious from her phrasing, she’s still insisting 2 days minimum for most, 3 days for admins. Why? Who knows?! Considering our company has a healthy history of people shifting departments, not to mention losing and hiring folks, why would you risk losing a ton of employees by being stricter about remote work?

My main thought is that she’s lonely. She’s tired of being in a mostly empty cube farm, her assistant not being there, and having to do all her meetings online. What’s the point of going into her office if she’s the only one there? So why not force everyone to come back. But the problem is that once something is granted to a person, they consider a right, and they get very angry if it’s taken away.

When the rules change at work, people start updating their resumes. People get comfortable in their ways. When I was first told back in… oh, 2007, “Marcus, you’re going to work from home starting next week.” I was shocked. But I found the joy of flexible work. At that time, the boss realized that most of his trainers were frequently in classes, or shifting around, and thought… “Gee, I can convince my bosses that we can save money if don’t have dedicated cubes.” And he was right. So for five years, I enjoyed the choice of either working from home, riding down to work, or riding out to wherever and working from there. I got to really love the bike trail and my cellular internet adapter (sorry, I can’t think of the actual name), finding myself working outside near the mounds of Fort Ancient, Ohio.

Then one day, my department got subsumed by Information Services, and the word came from on high. No more flexible work, you need to be in your cubicle, none of this adjustable schedule. I decided to shift jobs within my company, and when that wasn’t an option, I became a traveling consultant, and I’ve gained a measure of flexibility ever since. Even with my 5-day-a-week cube life back in place, I still have a great boss which allows me to be flexible when the needs of my life require me to be elsewhere.

I think that’s why I agree that the Great Resignation is about to happen. Some people may want to keep working from home, they may not, but everyone agrees they want the flexibility to choose. When your boss realizes, “Why are we paying for this office space if no one’s using it?” and insists you use it… those that want to keep working from home will seek out the TONS of jobs that are now remote. And that’s what my boss’ boss doesn’t realize; give people flexibility and you will have happy workers. Play the “because I’m the boss card,” you will lose them.

But I could be wrong–what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books and give me the flexibility to make more. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Is There Something Wrong with your Shoes?

2 Jun

My kids are allergic to their shoes. I’m not sure why, but for whatever reason, my kids will take off their shoes at every… single… opportunity. What is it about footwear that they find so confining?

It’s the strangest thing. Running outside? No, we’ll go barefoot. Go out to the parking lot, why bother putting on shoes on steaming hot tarmac? In the car for more than five minutes, take the shoes off, you’re not going anywhere.

I usually blame it on our weather. Here in Arizona, it rarely gets below 50 F during the day, so you can be relatively comfortable without socks or footwear. I certainly had never worn sandals on a regular basis until I came here–it simply didn’t feel comfortable for me. Now? If I’m going to go out in the summer, wearing close toe sandals makes the trip so much more comfortable.

It rarely rains (we have summer and winter monsoons, but rarely any other time) so there’s little need to keep your feet dry. I’d blame it on the grass in the front, since if we had lots of sharp rocks, biting bugs, and cactus they’d be more conscious. Then they run out into the parking lot without shoes, so… that’s not all of it.

Despite the fact that my wife has set aside shoe racks, getting them to actually put their shoes away is impossible. There is a general disdain for shoes. Even when they know they have to bring them along, my son will still say, “I’ll put them on in the car.” It’s a coin flip whether he actually will before we reach our destination.

Maybe if we had a mud room, it would be better, because then all that footwear could just hang out there. But meanwhile, us parents wonder when they’ll figure out they need to wear shoes! (sigh) Do you have this problem? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Generational Conditioning

30 May

Activists like to throw around terms such as “generational poverty” and “lack of access to X,” but when they quote that, they tend to forget that the communities themselves will keep their members from “progress.”

I’ve heard this called the “anthill theory” and the idea is that when one ant climbs to the top of the anthill, the other ants will grab him and try to drag them down. This is not a conscious effort–this is the natural consequence of poorer communities having different values than the richer ones.

I grew up middle class, but it was in a small rural town, so you couldn’t afford to be snobby. My friends crossed all different borders. I had poor friends, rich friends, Catholics, Protestants, Dutch, Non-Dutch (including Hispanic), so you would constantly interact with people of all backgrounds (although admittedly, mostly white). College (through grants and loans) became an opportunity available to all of my graduating high school class, but naturally, some chose not to take that path for a variety of reasons, but many simply didn’t want to leave Morrison. And half my class never came back; mind you, a quarter only moved to somewhere in the same region, but those who wanted to leave, did.

Why do I mention this? Because there aren’t a lot of jobs in Morrison; staying (or even coming back) means accepting a low income, limited dating pool, and less things available. On the flip side, it’s cheaper, and more importantly, it’s where your family lives. If family is important to you, because it provides an emotional and physical support network, then you live where your family does.

If you wanted to advance your career, but stay close to home, your option was either Sauk Valley Community College or commute to the Quad Cities (an hour away) where there were a couple options. Where I live now, my wife teaches many local kids, but she frequently has to deal with students who say, “I work 40 hours a week and pull a full course load.” Why would you put yourself through such torture? Because your family needs the money… and your scholarship mandates a full course load to get the funding.

I was blessed with a family that didn’t need me to bring in a paycheck; then again, they didn’t have a paycheck prior to this, so… it’s a choice. Improve the lives of your siblings or… don’t. Then again, my family also broke up when I went to college (mom died, stepdad got remarried), so I had a lot less incentive to return home. I could afford to move overseas and take jobs around the country because being close to my family wasn’t my main concern.

You have to move to where the money is, and if that isn’t where your family lives, you don’t get the money. If you don’t live near a grocery store, you either get on the bus and travel to one, or you depend on the convenience store within walking distance. Yeah, it sucks, but when you choose that I want to live near my extended family, there are consequences. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My kids don’t have grandparents… at least not ones who care about them. I haven’t talked to my siblings in decades and my wife’s cut herself off from hers. We’ve paid for our family distance.

Man, this got dark fast. As always, if I’m not considering something important, let me know in the comments below! But if you like my writing, check out one of my books! However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Grandparents and Strawberries

21 May

He was a farmer, a fisherman, an ice harvester, and a gin runner… but by the time I met Chester, my great-grandfather, he was an old man who liked to make jokes, lived in the house he built, and loved his kids. And in his 80’s, he still grew a field of strawberries.

I was lucky in the fact that I remember six of my great-grandparents. Chester is probably the most colorful of them all. All eight were farmers; all of them moved away from their parents and bought their own farm. I didn’t know his wife, my great-grandma Helen, because she was 5 when she died of cancer. We were living in Kansas at the time, and I don’t remember going to her funeral, so if my mom went, I wouldn’t know.

That branch of the family is the most settled out of all the clans. The Crosses moved out to Illinois in the 1850’s and as their kids grew up, married, and farmed themselves, they only spread out in a eighty-mile radius. Not an easy visit, but completely do-able from the histories I’ve read at the time. When I went to visit Cordova, I found I accidently ran into my fourth cousin! I make a big deal about this because every other branch of my family moved to hell and gone away from their family. I don’t think this was on purpose–it’s just where the affordable land was.

My family didn’t tell stories of how Chester and Helen got together, but they did, and settled on land right on the Mississippi River. It wasn’t the best place to farm; it would flood every five to ten years. Even the nearby city dikes weren’t built until the “hundred year flood” back in 1965. (I once filled sandbags at that property.) They were poor… really dirt poor, and he had three daughters, one of which was my grandma. During the Great Depression, she told us kids about the time when they made biscuits, but cheese was expensive, so they would hide a bit of cheese in one of the biscuits and it was a game to see who got the cheesy biscuit. That was the treat.

When you’re a poor farmer, you do what you can to get by. During the winter, he would join the gangs of men who would chop ice blocks out of the Mississippi River. Before refrigeration, insulated ice boxes were what you used to keep your food in, and that required harvesting and storing ice in ice houses for the rest of the year. Going to the ice house during the summer was a big deal, especially in places like Texas, but Illinois can be just as humid.

He was also known to do a little petty theft here and there. He probably helped run booze during Prohibition across the river, but he didn’t talk much about it. Chester was always great with a joke and loved to laugh. His three daughters married well–my grandma was the oldest and became a farmer’s wife… until they couldn’t afford to farm any more, and became a factory secretary. My great-aunt Doris married the publisher of the local paper, so she did well, but made the grievous faux-pax of marrying a Dutchman. (gasp) They built a house right next to her dad and hated every minute of her country estate living right next to a moldy old shack. But she watched out for her dad in his old age, but tore that place down the week after he was buried. The third daughter, great-aunt Nancy, had the misfortune of outliving four husbands… she’s still alive and living in a nursing home in my hometown.

Chester didn’t have much, but he loved his family, and did everything he could with what he had… even if it wasn’t legal. But I remember him taking us out to the strawberry fields, looking at Helen’s collection of spoons and tchotchkes, and being fascinated by what an older man could see in his great-grandson. I hope you have some good memories of your great-grandparents; share them in the comments below! Then check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

The Sound of Silence

11 May

So I started a new job and I’m really excited about what I’m doing. However, thanks to the joys of COVID, I wanted to actually leave home, go to the office, and have a desk. Which means I’m the only person on this side of the floor… the tumbleweeds are rolling by.

As software designers would say, “This is not a bug, this is a feature.” When the new boss was letting me know about this situation ahead of time, I thought, “Great!” I actually work better in isolation. That is what appealed to me about the work-from-home situation. The wife and kids would go out for the day and the house would be all mine. All… mine! (insert evil laugh here)

Even having a desk in the bedroom from where to work, and being able to shut the door, and playing my music and/or radio, I couldn’t get over the fact that someone else was in the house with me. Kids would step in to give me a hug every so often. The wife would engage me with some news item when I came down for a snack. It disrupted my day in a way that being in an office never did. There, the presence of others was expected; at home, it was unwanted.

Plus you had the problem that you never went home after work; you were already there. I could bore you with the facts that you already know, since my working-from-home was no longer the exception, but the rule. There was no transition from being off-work to on. So despite having a great job working from home, it was driving me crazy. Having a sick day was pointless; a vacation was similar… unless you were leaving the house. Instead of resenting my co-workers – who I rarely saw – I resented my wife, just for being there.

So I figured the solution was to get a desk again–away from the house. I couldn’t afford to buy an office space, the shed wasn’t going to work as a “fortress of solitude” (because I live in Arizona, and an unheated / uncooled shed was simply not an option for five months out of the year), so a new job was the best solution… and it’s a great position.

Now what’s weird to me is that this is the first time in nine years that I’ve had a desk to go to in the same metro area. I had a desk when I was a traveling consultant at the location they asked me to fly to, but it was always a temp spot. It wasn’t MINE. Now I get the added weirdness of being the only one here. However, I think that’s gonna be a good transition for me. I had the “fortress of solitude,” I lost it, and now I’m back there again. By the time people actually have to come back to their desk, I’ll be comfortable.

Of course, I could be deluding myself–who knows? What do you think? Is this is a viable solution to my home woes, or am I simply running away and avoiding the relationship work with my family? Let me know in the comments below! Then you can see what I do with my books. However, if you’re not that interested in my writing, why not download my stories for free? You’ll be glad you did.

Running Away From Home (Part III)

18 Apr

The last couple of posts I’ve made have talked about my career and my experience with working-from-home over the last decade. Now I’m going to finish up explaining why I’m so desperate to get back to a desk.

So the COVID experience ruined working from home for me, but if I’m to be honest, I was already starting to feel that way before this started. It was just amplified by EVERYONE staying at home. So in the last couple of months, I’ve been passively looking for a new job, preferably one that has a desk I can sit at, away from the house.

What I learned is that I like the flexibility of my job. I would get miserable if I had to be at my desk every day, but working from home once or twice a week would allow variety. Moving from café to café is cool… if I didn’t have to do it all the time. Having that change is important to me; that’s what I liked most about consulting, the travel. I liked the fact that my job changed every couple of months, new locations, new people… but it was same gig. I liked seeing new places; I just stopped enjoying my job after a while. As a fellow consultant of mine told me, “After six months, it starts feeling like work.”

As my current boss says, “It’s good to search for a new job every six months, just so you can see what’s out there.” That’s been my pattern; something negative happens at my job, I start job searching, and usually decide that my current situation is preferable to what I see out there. If there’s something interesting, I apply, but when you don’t have to scramble to get a paycheck, the job search is a lot more comfortable.

Plus job searching tends to be like firing a shotgun; most of the time you’re going to miss. When you’re intensely job searching, I can fill out 30 applications a day, 10 of them running through an ATS filter (which takes longer), and I might get a pique of interest from… let’s say 4 to be optimistic.

Now that sounds ludicrous, but look at it from HR’s perspective. You put out a job request and there are 200 applicants for even the most technical of positions. You have to sort out 20 people for the managers to take a look at. So 10% of all applicants get more than an automated reply. So getting 10% back on your job search investment is pretty standard. Now if I’m only filling out 5 applications a day, with one running through an ATS filter, I’ll be lucky if I hear back more than once a week.

So I’ve had a couple interviews, but only one has gotten past the initial phone screening, and that’s pretty normal. In fact, I got a verbal offer for an actual honest-to-God desk position! However, this job was posted in late December, I applied in January, got a “more information” request in February, got a phone screening and an interview in March, and a final confirmation / interview this week. Yet it’s still a verbal offer, contingent on a manager confirmation, background check, drug screen, and I’m sure, taking a pound of flesh. But it took five months to get this far… and I still can’t give my current boss two weeks notice!

So I’m looking at a new job, new life, new co-workers, new boss… and it’s scary. But that’s a topic for another time; for now, I think I’ve exhausted the “wanting to work back at a desk” topic. But what do you think? Am I being stupid leaving the freedom I have now? Let me know in the comments below! If you want to help me live a more independent lifestyle, buy one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’d appreciate it either way.

Running Away from Home (Part II)

17 Apr

So yesterday, I started telling the story of my work career, and how I’ve had the option to work from home for a decade now. However, that all changes when the option becomes mandatory.

When I got my work-from-home job three years ago, this was ideal for a while… until two things happened. One, I ran out of reasons to want to get out of the house. There were only so many cafes and virtual offices and hotel lobbies that I wanted to frequent. I had a whole mapped out area of my town that has all the places I liked to go. But the hassle of not having my extra screen or having to set up new again when I moved location bugged the crap out of me.

The second thing was COVID–so instead of being alone at home, I had the whole family there–and there was nowhere I could hide. Unlike a lot of people, I’ve never had any great fear of catching it, and I was grateful that after a while, I found a place I could go that also had like-minded people. (I’m not going to say where, because of all the COVID cowboys out there, who want to shame people who are non-compliant.) After a while, that became my ONLY escape from my regular work schedule. 

So I learned several things about myself during this stay-at-home experience that ruined the joy of it.

1. You’re Never AT Work

With the family around the house, my only option to get enough done is to move my desk to my hot bedroom. But I have to leave that “office” every once in a while to get a drink, get a snack, stretch my legs… whatever. That means your family immediately pounces on you for the simple joy of interaction. My kids are thrilled to see their dad (I’ll enjoy it while it lasts), my wife is suffering for lack of adult interaction, and I… I just want to get my drink and go back to my desk. A two-minute trip to the kitchen becomes ten minutes, because my wife wants to bitch about some damn news story that she just saw.

2. You’re Never NOT at Work

Thankfully, my boss is very helpful in enforcing work-life balance. Nothing after work hours has to be answered right then. But there are always emergencies, and normally I like to keep all electronics off on Saturday, but since all new classes that I work on release their videos on Saturday morning, some eager beaver is ready to tell me if something didn’t work… which means, I need to be aware if it needs fixing, which means leaving my phone on… albeit I check it a lot less.

So I’m never NOT at work–and my commute from my bed to the desk means that I never feel there’s a clear delineation from my work to my homelife… everything’s jumbled.

3. You’re Not Really Working

No one is working diligently all the time. When you’re at a cubicle, you have to disguise the fact that you’re goofing off. But when you’re at home and your desk is pointed away the door, at any point my wife can bust in the door and notice me playing solitaire, she can see that I’m goofing off. That means that she values my work less because “well, you’re not really working, are you?”

So that means that she feels far more comfortable interrupting me or talking with me about some important thing… and what would have been handled by a text becomes a conversation that lasts longer. Unlike a co-worker that you can politely excuse yourself, your lover is not going to be so easily swayed by a brush-off. I learned that isolation is important to me–and can not be understood by my wife.

Again, this post is getting way too long, so I’m going to have to continue it tomorrow. If you can relate to my story, let me know in the comments below! Then if you like my writing style, go ahead and check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. Then you can comment again! 🙂

Running Away from Home (Part I)

16 Apr

Off and on for the past ten years, I’ve been lucky to have the option to work from home; the last three years exclusively. The problem is that when you work from home, it’s not just you… how you look at work completely changes.

Now with the COVID thing, a lot more people got to experience that lovely option, so what I’m saying is not that revolutionary… or even unusual. But since I’ve been doing it longer, I’m going to focus on the option part. When you have the option to work from home, it’s a lot more appealing than when it’s mandatory.

When I first had the option, I worked for a major hospital, and after six months sitting in a very nice cubicle (a whole half mile from the facility), my boss just announced, “Hey, Marcus, you’re going to be working from home next week.” I was shocked. Sure, I got bored at my desk sometimes, which then allowed me to get back to writing; the result of that was Seven Heavens, Seven Hells.

What ended up happening turned out to be great. I had to go into the office once or twice a week because of in-person training or meetings, but any other trip was up to me. When we only had one kid, my wife still worked, and my son was in daycare, so I could work out of my study without interruption. When I wanted to get out, I could go for a bike ride and work out of a café along the bike trail.

After my second kid was born, my wife stopped working, and then she was always there. So I believe I found more excuses to head down to work and my shared desk there. After a couple years of this, I went on the road as a consultant, so I had all the time I wanted there. I would occasionally have to work on Fridays from home, or I had projects that wanted to save money by having me work from home every other week, and that allowed me to enjoy the experience as an option.

Six years later, getting on a flight on Sunday and coming back later Thursday got really old. I loved the travel, but my job sucked, so I was lucky to get a work-from-home job where I could stay close to home and still get paid.

I’m realizing this post is getting WAY too long, so I’ll continue it tomorrow. But if this sounds familiar to you, share it with me and let me know in the comments below! And then check our my books. But if $1.99 is too steep for you to pay, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

“Oh, my father he was Orange, and my mother she was Green”

17 Mar

St. Patrick’s Day is a weird day for me; for starters, it’s an American holiday more than an Irish one. I have Irish ancestors, but mostly because they married my Scotch-Irish ancestors, on the opposite side. Do I wear orange or green?

My father’s direct line ancestors–the Johnstons–were on the wrong side of the Kirk at the end of the 17th Century. They were Dissenters, good Presbyterians who didn’t like the rule of the current presbyters (that’s “elder” in Greek) who ran the church (or “kirk” in Gaelic). But at that point in history, the Kirk was the political force in Scotland, so the Dissenters had to go… and there was a place to send them. The Battle of the Boyne had defeated the main Irish resistance in Ulster (Northern Ireland). They needed good English subjects to support their colonization, and when they couldn’t find enough, they settled for “non-Irish,” so my family left Lowland Scotland for Northern Ireland.

It took a while, but even my ancestors realized after three generations, this was a bad deal. So after a hundred years of fighting/marrying the Irish, they were offered “virgin land” in Canada and my 5th great-grandfather left Ireland for Peel Township, which today is the outer burbs of Toronto. The problem is that farming in Ontario is… a break-even proposition. It was enough to have eight kids, and since my 4th great-grandfather was the 3rd son, he wasn’t going to inherit the new family farm. So he moved to Iowa, which started a journey of farmers in my family from Iowa to Missouri to Nebraska to my grandfather saying… “Hey, why do we have to farm?” So my family became very nomadic… like many Americans.

Which kinda gets to the point–we left and so did the Green. St. Patrick’s Day (was originally) celebrated by Irish-Americans who really got the short end of the stick when moving to America and decided to celebrate that which the Anglo-Saxon majority thought was inferior. (“No Irish Need Apply”) The Ancient Order of the Hebrideans was formed out of the Irish-American illegal miner unions to protect and celebrate their heritage. That was the history that my wife’s family comes from… but despite having a more direct Irish relation, they also married Scots when they came to America.

Which is a fancy way of saying, “We’re all mutts.” Americans are great at blending races–St. Paddy’s Day isn’t just about celebrating being Irish–it’s just a great excuse to party! So wear whatever you want. We’re not marching down the street to scare our neighbors. We’re marching to celebrate the fact we’re still here. And that’s worth celebrating. That’s something a good Jewish boy like myself can sympathize with: “They tried to kill us, they didn’t, let’s eat.”

But what do you think? Do you wear orange today? Do you even bother to remember wearing green? Let me know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, try cracking open a book by a great American Jewish Libertarian writer of Scottish and Irish descent. 🙂 Or if $1.99 is too high a hurdle for you (since you’re a little drunk this evening and spent all your money), download a free story! You’ll be glad you did.

Scads of Fun

5 Mar

When my great-grandmother Emily died, we had to clear out her house. They lived on a farm near Garden Plain, Illinois–15 minutes drive from where I grew up. But this exercise gave us a glimpse into her life, a world that disappeared a hundred years ago.

My grandma Emily was the youngest daughter of Harvey, the owner of the bank in Albany, Illinois (the bank only recently merged with another). Her mother died in childbirth (1899), which meant that her older sister, Olive, ended up raising her. Not the greatest start, but they were the upper class of their small town, so she didn’t want for anything. However, she grew up, went to the local high school (a bit unusual for 1912), and performed very well. Emily and her girlfriend saw a list of all the boys in the high school and decided to work their way through the (short) list, dating all of them. Emily took the end and her girlfriend the beginning… but apparently decided to stop when she met Lee.

They were a pretty steady couple, but her father didn’t like the idea of his daughter marrying a farmer, so he sent her off to college. She visited Blackburn College, which by modern standards is a six-hour drive, but in 1916, that would have been closer to 12. Emily sent a postcard to Lee saying that “the kids here live in Pullman cars and have scads of fun!” In retrospect, she was taunting her beau. She ended up going to Campbell College, a women’s college in Mount Carroll, Illinois (much closer to Albany), and stayed their a year until she got married a year later in 1917.

Now us grandkids were always confused why Harold eventually let her daughter marry someone so below her social standing, until Emily’s funeral. That’s when my cousin Tim made the connection–when he looked at the program which mentioned the birthdates of all of her kids. Great Aunt Josephine was born six months after the stated date of their wedding. Whoops. So apparently, Lee and Emily had a shotgun wedding, which finally removed all opposition to Lee marrying her baby girl, and knowing how smart Emily was… she may have planned it that way.

Lee missed the WWI draft by being married and having a kid, putting him up in a higher tier. They rented a farm for a while until they could get enough money to buy their own. (Which is still in the family, owned by my uncle and aunt.) They ended up having four kids, including my grandfather, John Wesley. (Lee’s father was Wesley.) They all grew up on that farm, and their kids got married, making sure to visit their parents with their kids twice a week (the other weekend was for the spouse’s parents).

Lee lived until he was 91, Emily 97; she died ten years to the day that her husband died. I didn’t know my great-grandma that well while she was alive, but going through her things, allowed me to see the world that she lived in… and that brought me closer to her. Have you ever had this experience? Have you been able to connect with a dead relative through some letter or picture you found? Let me know about it in the comments below!

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