Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
My Great Aunt Rose was the first person to introduce the concept of reincarnation to me. I was young – probably 10 or perhaps younger. I had gone to the Hotel Pathfinder to pick up my Great Aunt, she wasn’t ready when I arrived so I went up to her room to wait.
Aunt Rose lived in a wonderful apartment on the 5th floor of the hotel. Her hotel residence was a single large room with an alcove for the bed – there was a closet on each side of the bed – giving the room a sense of order and symmetry.
There was a nice size bathroom with a shower, sink, medicine chest and toilet located to the right of the right-hand closet. Next to the bathroom was a very small but completely efficient kitchen. The sink, stove, and refrigerator were contained in a single unit. A row of cupboards had been placed above the appliance unit. A small – very small work table with shelves was scooted into the corner. Only one person (or my Aunt and a small child) could fit in the kitchen at a time.
In the middle of the large room was a desk – which acted as a divider. The bedroom was behind the desk, the living area in front of the desk. Rose had a book case, a chair and small sofa in the living area. I remember an end table, television, radio and foot stool – but overall, the living area was quite minimalistic.
As I was waiting for Rose to gather her hearing aid, jacket and purse, I walked over to the wonderfully giant windows to gaze at the scene below… It always freaked me out a bit to be so high but it was such a cool vantage point. Aunt Rose joined me at the window and told me that earlier she had seen a cricket on her window sill.
She had heard the cricket chirping and was surprised to find the critter sitting, big as you please, five stories up in the sky. She wondered aloud how the cricket had managed to find its way up to her window sill. Aunt Rose was a fantastic story teller and she always added an interesting detail or two that brought you into the mind of her characters. She told me that the cricket was friendly and genuinely happy to see her. She talked to the insect and asked why it had traveled all the way to her window – it didn’t answer – but she had the impression that it had been a difficult journey. The cricket appeared to be calm – not at all excited or fearful to be sitting on a window ledge so high off the ground. The cricket was quite content to rest on its perch, listen to her voice and simply share some time with her.
This is when reincarnation came up. She explained that she didn’t recognize the cricket but she felt that she knew the cricket. She felt that the cricket had been on a mission to check on her, see if she was doing ok and say Hi. She mused that she must have known that cricket in another life and she was honored that this reincarnated being would take the time to travel up the side of a five-story building to check on her well-being.
As we left her room and entered the elevator, she told me of a friend who had told her if he returned, he wanted to be a bird. She had joked with him – saying “Oh my – is there someone you want to get even with?” Which was funny – because a few days earlier a bird had pooped on my head as I walked home from school. We laughed – Aunt Rose admitted that she had been waiting for her friend to come visit her as a bird one day… I was wondering if it was her deceased friend who had pooped on my head just a few days before.
Our conversation that day, was a lighthearted, joking exchange. Reincarnation was introduced as a possible explanation for a rather unusual, random occurrence. There was, however, normally some truth and most definitely a lesson in whatever story or fable Aunt Rose shared with me. That conversation planted a seed…
Aunt Rose traveled to far off lands and the stories she told us and the photos she shared, opened my eyes to the history, governments, arts, belief systems and cultures of a variety of countries throughout the world. She was a Christian woman who truly believed each person on the planet was a child of God.
We never really discussed it but I believe that through her teachings to me, she believed that there is but one God and that there is a universal truth present in each religion - the law of love. Aunt Rose was devout in her Christian faith. She remained steadfast in that faith and beliefs while exploring the mystical and spiritual aspects of other religions. Even allowing for the possibility of the reincarnation of a friend – a cricket sitting on her window sill.
She was a woman of the world – a strong – independent woman. A woman who wasn’t afraid to go beyond traditional boundaries. She was a woman of great curiosity – a woman who wanted to experience first-hand the beauty, the diversity, the various cultures of the continents, and the many wonders contained on this planet. A woman who learned and accepted new things and different people. A woman who made friends with persons of many faiths – Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and probably more… A spiritual woman who was certainly open to the mystical…
I was raised within the Christian faith; however, my belief structure has grown to include the actuality of reincarnation. To allow for the very real possibility that God does work in mysteries ways, his miracles to perform.
Since the cricket and bird poop episode, I have learned more about reincarnation. I have heard stories concerning reincarnated beings. I have read articles and books on the subject. I have attended Darshans and listened to the teachings of a reincarnated master of wisdom.
To me, reincarnation is as much a possibility, as the resurrection. To me, reincarnation is the same process of renewal, regeneration and rebirth that we Christians celebrate at Easter!
I bring this up – not to convert you to an alternative belief system, not to debate you on the merits of various belief systems, but rather to explain how I got from there to here as a Christian. I want to understand the process by which reincarnation has blended into my Christian faith and I want to document for my family and loved ones, the journey that has led me to this point. It is a rather boring journey of many years of nothing - sprinkled with a smattering of mystical experiences. Each magical moment leading to a major healing crisis or spiritual awakening – or both… Each experience leading to a greater awareness and acceptance of just how little I know or understand.
I will share more details concerning the shaping of my views regarding reincarnation... as the spirit moves me.
The slide program features pictures of my Aunt Rose. She was the youngest sister of my Grandpa Joe Green and a person I adored. Whenever I needed a babysitter, I asked for Aunt Rose - her stories were the absolute best! Many of the pictures include family members... I wish I had pictures of her apartment in the old Hotel Pathfinder... I'm going to draw some sketches of how I remember her room - it won't be exact... but I'm going to give it a try!
I don’t know how many times I’ve told this story… but here it goes again. I have been researching my ancestry for the past several months. Specifically, to find out if my great grandmother Jenny Hartford McDuffee Powers was really a Native American. She was not. She had people convinced she was a Blackfoot Native American – she played the part. Again – she was not. Not a Native American – big disappointment.
She was however, a possible descendent from some very interesting people. I say possible, because my research is not extensive! I am also basing the lineage on information contained within the Ancestry DNA website – and that has a tendency to take you off on erroneous trails. Some paths seem to be more realistic than others and also come with documents that further justify your belief that a particular ancestor really belongs to your tribe… just not a Native American Tribe.
The path leading back to the Pirate appears to be on solid footing – so that was a fun and yet a somewhat horrifying discovery. But that will be a story for another day.
All this traveling back in time – going from one set of grandparents back to another set of grandparents – left me wondering if I had a Mayflower connection. I kept checking the possibility that a family member may have traveled on that particular ship. But I found nothing that would suggest a link.
I’m pretty sure that I have a Jamestown founder in my lineage – and that was earlier than the Mayflower, but still no surnames had surfaced leading to the passenger list of the famous ship. So, I didn’t think about it much until my cousin posted a picture of her membership card that she had recently received from the “Mayflower Society”. Sandie’s lineage had finally been confirmed and she had been accepted into the exclusive organization. Her lineage was from her Mother's side of the family - she is a cousin of mine through her father's side of the family - so we don't share that particular lineage. Since we are both DAR members, she encouraged me to keep looking for a connection to the Mayflower. I encouraged her to keep looking for a witch.
I wasn’t really looking that hard for a connection and had gone back to tracing the lineage of the Non-Native American Jenny Hartford. That led me to the Coy surname and that led me to more “Coy” Great Grandfathers. Each of the Coy generations were documented with DNA connections so the thru lines helped to validate the path. My 5th Great Grandfather is Christopher Coy and that is when the thru lines end. There was more documentation that indicated his father was John Coy and his father was Jonathan Coy. Still nothing particularly interesting here… so I lost interest and starting researching other family lines.
A few days later – maybe a week – I received an email from another ancestry website, informing me that they had found a Mayflower connection in my family tree. Call me intrigued – they informed me that Matthew Coy was the father of Jonathan Coy in my family tree and that Matthew had married Ann Brewster. Ann Brewster is the descendant of Elder William Brewster and they suggested that William Brewster is my 11th Great Grandfather. And William Brewster was a passenger on the Mayflower. Well – isn’t that fun and it’s from Jenny Hartford – Pirates and Pilgrims – no Indians but very interesting.
Sooooo, back I go to the Ancestry DNA website and start punching in some names. Just so you understand… I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t received that email. Researching the lineage takes more patience and understanding than I seriously have to give. I want everything handed to me on a silver platter and I don’t want to have to work very hard to learn my roots. So, the extra assistance from the ancestry website was the needed incentive to follow that particular path.
From the surface, the lineage looks legit. But the in-depth study that it would take to verify the ancestry is a bit beyond me. Sooo, I filled out the Lineage Form from the Mayflower Society and paid my $75.00 to have them see if this particular lineage had been verified. If there are massive potholes in the trail leading back in time, they will be able to notify me of those discrepancies. If more information is needed to fill in those potholes, hopefully they will give me direction on how that may be completed.
Sooooo… maybe I have an ancestor who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower – maybe not. BUT – it’s still cool to think that I may, possibly, perhaps have an ancestor pilgrim and it’s almost Thanksgiving. That is so cool.
My daughter Ramie has an ancestor that has been verified and traced back to the Mayflower. A few years after we adopted Ramie, a birth relative gifted to Ramie a Family Ancestry Booklet pertaining to the lineage and confirming the connection. I thought to myself… wouldn’t that be crazy if her and I shared the same Mayflower Ancestor… I looked up the information… we didn’t. But it’s still cool that my maybe ancestor and her for sure ancestor made the journey together and survived… They came to the New World together for religious freedom and to start a new life.
Nearly four hundred years later, a woman descendent from a Mayflower passenger, selected our family to adopt her precious child. She made that decision based on a feeling – a feeling of connection. We met Deb while she was still pregnant with Ramie. She asked me to be her Lamaze coach. We attended classes and we got to know each other pretty well. Deb, and her older daughter, became a part of our family. Randy and I were with Deb when Ramie was born – Randy got the honor of cutting the cord. We cried.
During this time of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the people in my family lineage who fearlessly sailed into the unknown, endured hardship and helped to create a country of democratic freedoms. I’m thankful for those who have done their part to preserve the Union – in times of peace and in times of war.
I’m thankful for the many kind souls who found their way into my life and the love, compassion and friendship they have offered me over the years. I’m thankful for a woman I didn’t know but who I feel shares a centuries old bond… (Maybe Mayflower – maybe not) A woman who acted on her faith and trusted me with her baby. I am thankful for my family – the ones who share my blood and the ones who share my heart. Happy Thanksgiving.