The other morning as I was driving to work in traffic, I remembering the presentation I gave for the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society. I was thinking about other presentations I could do for a smaller group that I’m in and I thought of the Pioneer Corps of the Civil War. I want to learn more about them, so why not also do a presentation?
Then my mind wandered (as it often does…). I considered my grandfather from the Civil War, Miles Price-- how much I know about him and how I could give a whole presentation about him in general. Then I wandered in my head to what I DON’T know about him. Then it wandered to Dad and I working together to learn more about him. Then it wandered to Dad-- as most things do.
I was pondering what happens After. Is there an After? If there is, what do I want it to be? So then I planned a Dinner Party in Heaven. If I can just decide what is After, I’m deciding that it’s all my ancestors at my beck and call. I will throw a dinner party, featuring a long table with towers of cheese (my favorite food), bottles of wine, and all kinds of delicious delicacies. I sit at the head of the table (it is MY heaven, afterall). To my right is my dad and to my left is Miles Price. Dad and I have our heads close together, balanced on our hands in rapture with Miles’ voice. As if engulfing our minds of all he is telling us makes our heads too heavy to hold up without our elbows’ support.
Miles will acquaint us with his childhood in Pennsylvania. Who he lived with, what happened to his parents, the names of his parents. Miles will talk of his trip from Pennsylvania to Illinois. When it was, who he traveled with, how they traveled. He will tell us of meeting his wife, of his first born child, his political views. Miles will share the FEELINGS he had during his time in the Civil War. We know what he did and where he went. Until he shared those stories, we didn’t know how he felt. He will let us know he was glad to be chosen for the Pioneers. Or maybe he wasn’t. He will recount us of his time spent in the makeshift hospital on train cars while suffering the measles. He will let us know his most prideful times. His embarrassing moments. He will reveal what it was like to leave Illinois to make his home in Iowa. Then he will hint of his daughter, my second great grandmother. What she was like as a child. She will be to his left at my dinner table, smiling at his words that she’s heard so often. I’m not ready to hear from her yet—I’m devoted to her father for now. Her time will come, so for now she smiles a lovely smile.
Miles will spill the beans about how the names of his children were chosen. Who they were named for, why. He will everything, until we know Miles as we know ourselves. It’s only then that I can change positions to focus on another ancestor. Perhaps his daughter, Hattie. Perhaps other faces at the table will become more clear and my focus will be shifted at my Dinner Party in Heaven as it is on my genealogy on earth.
Maybe I will see my maternal second great grandmother, Laura Wilkinson. I have some questions for her about her life, too. Perhaps I will notice down at the end is my second great grandfather, husband of Hattie. I can give him a hug and a kiss. He remembers me from that time we met when I was two years old. My great grandfather is to my Dad’s right, with his wife and my two grandmothers next to her. They all knew each other and are talking amongst themselves until it’s their turn.
My Dinner Party in Heaven will be wonderful and may be so long that turn into my Breakfast Party in Heaven… days later. I think I’ll start mapping the seating arrangements and planning the menu.