The suitcase remained in the back of a closet. From time to time, I would pull it out and look through the pictures and wonder "who are all these people?" Having been born and raised in Singapore to missionary parents, I had almost no contact with my extended family. Those were the days before internet, cell phones and international phone calls were the exception not the rule....so distance was a factor in the lack of contact with the extended family.I envied others when they would talk of their cousins...uncles...grandparents...etc. Especially, growing up in Asia where extended family is a big part of life!! Now, in that suitcase, I had found a family that stretched from the West Coast of America all the way over to the East Coast.....I just didn't know who they were...yet.....
Fast forward to the summer of 2005, I visited the States to see my eldest son. My sister, Debbie, flew out from Oklahoma to meet me and I pulled out the suitcase. She was fascinated. We spent an entire night going through the suitcase.. We went from the suitcase to the internet, trying to find clues as to who the people were. There were inscriptions on the back of the pictures-- but they all seemed so cryptic. And then one single postcard, written by my g-g aunt Nellie (can't figure out- is it great great aunt? Or great grand aunt? or grand great aunt? ...anyhow my great- grandmother's sister!)...she had written the postcard to my great-grandmother Annie Muhm Teuber ...the postcard had the picture of Neligh, Nebraska and was sent to Tacoma, Washington. It was a simple message- but it unlocked the identity of the rest of the people in the suitcase-- the Muhms...the Mayhews...the Knapps....the Teubers...suddenly I had family coming out of my ears!!
I went to work on contacting the relatives to tell them I had pictures of their relatives. I spent the next few weeks sending packages of pictures to the families that I felt were the rightful owners....a picture of someone's grandfather...should be with that person...not with me! Through these messages back and forth, I got to know a third cousin here and a fifth cousin there and a fourth cousin over there...I was delighted!!!
Now my kids get a big kick out of saying, "Mom, everyone is somehow related to you!"....What a treasure my grandmother left for me....she left me a family. What a delightful family they are!! In getting to know them, I've come to know so much more about myself-- about my mom-- about my siblings...yes, indeed, my grandmother left me a priceless treasure!!
The postcard which unlocked the mystery.