Late Thursday afternoon last week, I watched Howard Landis walk toward our door, his wife Faythe following him. Facebook had revealed that Howard is related to me through Fannie Martin Longenecker, my maternal Grandmother. Now they had responded to our invitation to stop for an overnight stay on their way from Missouri to Florida.
Yes, Howard and I are related. In fact, we are second cousins, but I’ve never met him in person. As the door opened in anticipation, we said, “Hello” and “Good to see you” immediately. But what’s next? Do I hug him? Shake hands? Right away, my husband Cliff extended his hand for a firm handshake and I, flummoxed, managed an awkward half-hug/half handshake.
His grandfather Joseph Martin and my Grandma Fannie are brother and sister. Grandma Longenecker, born in 1891 and Joe, born in 1895, are children of Mary Horst Martin and Samuel Martin whom I describe in “Grandpa Sam, a Hoot and a Holler.” Typical of family photos of the era, no wide smiles – just somber looks.
In a generation closer to mine, Howard’s mother (Joe Martin’s daughter) and her husband Howard, senior, posed on Ruthie’s verandah for a photo in 1991, with Aunt Ruthie holding her “Fritzie” Schnauzer.
Howard, their son, born in Hummelstown close to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and his wife Faythe, originally from Iowa, have lived near both coasts of our nation: Fresno, California, and near the middle, Naperville, Illinois and Springfield, Missouri. Married forty-four years, the two have traveled around the world. Howard began his career as a youth minister in the States, and he and Faythe have served in China in several stints as teachers of English as a Second Language.
Peppy and adventuresome, they will be globetrotting again soon, taking their grandsons to experience Chinese culture.
A passage in Mennonite Daughter describes Howard’s stylish mother Mary, whom I wanted to emulate as a plain girl. I read a few descriptive paragraphs to his amusement.
During the visit, we shared a chili supper, an oatmeal breakfast and lively conversation throughout. To our delight, Howard invited Cliff and me to visit Springfield in the Ozarks next year. When they left, I didn’t hesitate to hug my new-found kin, formerly relatives in name only, a couple who now have become our friends.
Social media, often maligned, is a source of wonderful connections that otherwise would never happen.
How has Facebook, Twitter, a blog helped you make or maintain meaningful connections?
Enjoy this blessed holiday season. I’ll see you again in 2020!
Good morning, Marian! How lovely that you’ve found relatives–and new friends! Well, I met you through blogging, and I also “see” you on FB. 🙂 There is a cousin of my husband and some of mine that I’ve connected to through FB.
We pick and choose our friends on Facebook and the blog world. That way, we (mostly) stay out of trouble – ha!
Again, you’re numero uno after a busy week of birthday celebrations and Hanukkah preparations. I thank my lucky stars we found each other in cyberspace! Thank you, Merril.
What a wonderful story, Marian! So glad that you have found not only a second cousin but a new couple of friends to boot!
Yes, Social Media can be very good for this type of thing: I too have found relatives and old school friends this way.
As for your initial meeting, in Spain and France we would have kissed one another on both cheeks: no awkwardness at all, just the custom! 😘
(Some) Americans (me?) seem to be less effusive about handling first meetings, Fatima. You are very active on social media – your blog where I get your travelogue first hand. And then on Facebook where I often see your needlework. Thanks for staying connected here and there! <3
I loved this, Marian! What a perfect post for the holiday season. I really enjoyed the photographs. Blogging is my favorite form of social media. Connecting with people from all around the world and forming life-long friendships, it’s a blessing. Enjoy the holidays!
I chime with you, Jill. It’s obvious you enjoy blogging and also reciprocating on other people’s blogs. You have made communicating a fine art. Honestly, I don’t know how you keep up with it all: writing books and holding down a full time job to boot. Thanks for the comment and the good wishes!
Excited for you about this new friendship with a cousin and family. I was just thinking yesterday, after several of my cousins posted comments about my blog from last week about whether we use and cherish heirlooms etc. from family, and they chimed in about things they remembered–and still had– from our mutual grandparents. The interesting thing was no one commented at all at first on Facebook, but then one cousin made a comment and soon numerous other ones must have seen it in their FB feeds, and began to comment–which I’ve enjoyed immensely. Love your story here about a “fancy” aunt you wanted to be like!
Sometimes comments from friends they know gives readers courage to reply also, a good ripple effect.
As an early reader of my memoir manuscript, you may remember this excerpt about Mary Martin, one that didn’t get cut.
By the way, I really enjoyed your blog post on family heirlooms: to use or not to use. Others apparently did too! 🙂
How awesome is that!
Thank you for commenting here, Beth, very much appreciated. I see from your website you have been blogging since 2011, an admirable thing!
Yay! That’s awesome, Marian! How wonderful to meet Howard and Faythe! Naperville is not far from me, so who knows? I might have crossed paths with them when they lived in the area.
Your experience is what social media should be–a place for good connections! I’ve met many wonderful bloggers like you!
Marian, Faythe and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay with you and Cliff. Connecting with you and exchanging stories from our common ancestry was so delightful…and brought back a flood of good memories. I am so grateful for the common heritage we share…the strong faith that is the bedrock of our family relationships…the people who have shaped us and left us with a sense of identity that has grown out of our faith in God and not in circumstances we’ve experienced through the turbulent years of adolescence. We look forward to the time when you and Cliff will visit us in the beautiful Ozarks of southwestern Missouri when we can further explore the Longenecker-Martin-Landis connection with more stories, food, and laughter! Merry Christmas.
Howard, great to see you here. We bring our beloved relatives back to life when we recount their stories. Thanks for the invitation to the beautiful Ozarks. It sounds very appealing, especially during a hot, humid Florida summer.
I wonder if someone else we both know will see your photo and make yet another connection. That’s the magic of social media. 🙂
Enjoy your holiday in the sun!
I’m wondering now how I “met” you, L. Marie. I suspect it may have been through Jill Weatherholt’s blog, but who knows? Glad we are now friends and writing buddies! 🙂
Congratulations on finding a new friend, Marian. Social media has for me been a source of connecting, to various degrees, from the beginning. First to follow my distant sons, then to find a publisher for my memoir, then editors. Early on, as you know, I used my home in Chincoteague to meet a few women face to face. That first one couldn’t have worked out better.
I recall before that, doing just what your cousin Howard did: stopping over night en route to somewhere else. Currently, I’m most taken with how strongly attached I came to feel to some I’ve lost, without ever seeing them face to face. Whether blog followers or Facebook friends, they became part of my life, my routine. As, it appears, have we. Social media, the Internet has made the world smaller.
Before you invited me to Chincoteague, I had just a few writer friends. Shirley Showalter comes to mind, whom I “met” in a blog-writing course in 2012. Then I met 5-6 others, all authors who became my friends. Those friends became beta readers, developmental editors, and blurb writers. I’d say that’s the magic of social media.
You mentioned getting attached to blog followers. I recall one of your blog followers died, a loyal British reader, and felt sympathy at your loss, even though I knew you had probably never met face to face. Yes, the Internet has made the world smaller, a snug place to interact in an increasingly hostile world.
Thanks for reaching out to me with an invitation years ago, Janet, – and then for staying connected via our blogs and Facebook.
This is a wonderful story. I love when you get to meet a relative you haven’t yet. My mom´s younger sister had a baby out of wedlock (that´s what it was called then) and gave him up for adoption. Years later, in his 40s, he found his birth mothers family. I was the first one to meet him and when he opened his door, I knew immediately that he was one of the family. His birth mother had passed away many years ago but he is now part of our huge family and attends all the reunions etc. This was before social media but I do believe it has brought many family members and old friends back together. See you next year!!
Darlene, your family story sounds like a scenario that could be made into a movie. That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing it here.
Yes, see you in 2020, a new decade!
Marian — This post and supporting photos has me grinning from ear-to-ear. Oh, how fun! And yes, social media can be a great way to connect with lost lost friends and relatives. A few people have reached out to me from my childhood school days and some of those friendships have re-blossomed.
I think you are the diva of digital connections, Laurie. Certainly, you are my teacher in many of the connections beyond blogs and Facebook, Twitter especially.
Cheers to re-kindling friendships from school days!
Merry Christmas Marian & Cliff. May God continue to richly bless you in 2020!! 🙂
Thank you, Jenn. Blessings to you and your family in the new decade a well!
To answer your question, Marian, social media has introduced me to you through Shirley Showalter’s blog and I was introduced to hers through my friend, Dora Dueck, who convinced me to start my own blog! So I gained two new friendships, yours and Shirley’s, and a venue to express my own creativity, which might someday lead to a memoir!
I love your writing, Elfrieda. You are creating a family history as your nourish friendships, both digital and face to face. And those grandchildren are thriving because of your and Hardy’s influence, I’m sure.
Yes, blogging is a great way to connect. Never would I have found a woman in Winnipeg without it! 🙂
What fun to connect with new friends and family members. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.
Connecting with friends means we are collecting friendships, the best gifts of all! I’m so glad I met you at Chincoteague back in 2015 – wow! So much has happened since then, both of us publishing your memoirs. Thanks for the good wishes and the same to you, Bill, and the clan!
Yes! I totally agree with your take-away from Facebook and the social media. I have reconnected with old friends and found new ones through Facebook, despite my complaints about it. After all, it remains up to us how much we use these “tools” and what we use them for. I’m still a big fan of blogging above all else digital, though, as real friendships and wonderful connections have ensued through the blogs – of myself and others.
Happy Holidays to you and Cliff, Marian! Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year. May 2020 bring you both good health and happiness, creative pursuits and fun excursions. And, of course, May the new year bring us together in person as well. 🙂
The thing about social media, we an pick and choose our friends. My only complaint is these major generals (?) the hang out on Facebook looking for who knows what . . . easy to spot and easy to block!
I met you through our blogs somehow and then Facebook. Maybe 2020 will bring a face to face connection as well. Enjoy the approaching holiday to the fullest!
Thanks, Marian. And, we WILL be in Jacksonville in January. That’s a fact. 🙂
Well would you believe it 🤭 The joy of meeting a newfound member of the family through social media , well done . We hear such a lot of bad things about technology but not all things are bad and you and Howard are a shining example.
I agree, Cherry! You and I are “pick the good cherries”! How’s that for an analogy? There is a lot out there, but we just ignore the bad. I’m thankful WordPress filters out spam on my website,
May you and your family have a very happy Christmas season and wonderful new Decade. Yes, it’ll be 2020 soon. oxo
Hi Marian, I am Sandi Bongiorno, Howard Landis’s sister. I sure did enjoy your post about their visit with you and your husband. I loved the picture of my grandfather, Joseph Martin. I have such fond memories of Aunt Ruthie, and Aunt Fannie, Uncle Frank and the family. It was always exciting to go visit when we could! Merry Christmas!
Hello and welcome, Sandi. Howard spoke about you, and I’m sorry I never got to meet you when you visited Grandma L. and Aunt Ruthie’s house. I’m about 10 years older than Howard and may have been married and gone from PA by then.
I hope you get to read my memoir sometime soon. You could relate to some of the scenes, especially the family get-togethers around Grandma’s table. Thanks for commenting here! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Sandi!
How fun! Howard’s boyhood shirt is indeed fancy. Last year, I met up with my German cousin for the first time in over 50 years. We had met only once when I was a young girl. when my family took a trip to Germany. It’s great to reconnect with family!
It’s hard to tell from your last name that you, like me, have a German heritage. Yes, it’s great to connect with cousins, especially after 50 years. Thanks for sharing your story, and do have an enjoyable holiday season, Barbara!
Thank you, Marian. Yes, I’m mostly German, with some English and Irish. Hope you have a nice holiday!
Thanks for the good wishes ~ and a prosperous and healthy 2020 to you!
Happy for you! What a joy to reconnect with a long lost cousin.
Luci, thanks for taking time out of your early married days to comment. And thanks again for reviewing Mennonite Daughter, which showed up on Goodreads some time ago but not on Amazon. Who knows why?
I can see God’s hand in the design of your life, then and now. Best wishes to you and Ivan as you continue an exciting path together. I can tell your new husband will support your writing life – what Joy! 🙂
You have successfully connected both in person and online to a great community of friends, Marian. such a joy to see you giving yourself so fully to family and friends. Your mother and Aunt Ruthie would be proud of the way you are continuing their legacy of generosity.
Shirley, we have so many parallels in our lives as you pointed out in other correspondence. One of them was joy in teaching. After I retired, I missed my social connections with colleagues and students terribly. Blogging saved my life, so to speak, and ushered me into so many wonderful friendships. You were the first and have supported me ever since. I hope you feel my gratitude through the screen.
May you enjoy the blessings of playing with Owen, Julia, and Lydia very soon. I know you have PLANS!
Peace and joy during this glorious season! 🙂
What a happy connection and bonding thanks to social media!! And what a lively wonderful couple. I enjoyed reading this, Marian. I’m singing the song: WE ARE FAMILY! and realizing that we all have relatives – 1st, 2nd, 100th by bloodlines – all over the world.
You thought of the perfect song to sum up this week’s theme: We are family! I believe the first time I heard this song was at Disney World. And here for your listening pleasure is Sister Sledge singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyGY2NfYpeE
You got it, Pam, we have relatives (and friends) all over the world!
We ARE the World (:-) another one). I love the Sister Sledge rendition of We Are Family.
Love to you, my blogging sister and friend. xo
A lovely Christmas surprise for you Marian. It’s never too late to connect! Happy holidays! 🙂 x
Happy Holidays to you too, Debby! You’ve had a very busy year. Now it’s time for you (and me) to relax.
Cheers to great connections – always! 😀
Yes Marian! And 6 weeks to go til I escape the winter here! 🙂
What a sweet thought!
Fabulous to hear this!
Yes, I know. And with a certain amount of serendipity too. Thanks, Lady Fi! 🙂
I love it, Marian. Thanks for sharing what might have been your best Christmas gift. I’ve found wonderful connections on social media–but never a relative. I’ll keep looking. Sending you love and a Blessed and Peaceful New Year.
Elaine, your Facebook postings inspire me, often with a glimpse of natural beauty in your neighborhood. I got lucky in my FB meanderings, connecting with a live wire. These new-found relatives have invited us to the Ozarks. If it works out, we’ll be happy to escape scorching temps in Florida this summer. That’s for sure.
I wish you a Blessed and Peaceful New Year as well! 😀
How delighful, Marian.. FB can be a wonderful place to meet and discover. A return visit to the Ozarks such a heartwarming story.. Happy for you 💕
Happy New Year, Carol! All my good wishes for another productive year. I’m glad you like the post. Happy writing with good connections for you in 2020.
Thank you, Marian…Looking forward to your soup recipes …Happy writing and travels 🙂 x