Thanks to the generosity of a cousin and fellow Stogner researcher, Bill Reagan, I now have copies of several photos of that line of my family. I consider those old photos to be "treasures" in my chest of family collectibles.
Although I am truly grateful to Bill for the photos, at the same time I feel somewhat "cheated". Why? Because I did not have the opportunity to know the persons reflected on the paper images. I would not have recognized them if they had walked right up to me, face to face. I didn't even know they existed until my family research journey brought their names to my attention.
Of course, some of them had passed from this life before I was born so, therefore, I didn't expect to come to know them. Yet, there are the ones that were living and breathing during this same period, this same generation, as I. When I consider that many of my Grandpa Stogner's siblings lived until the 1980's and 1990's, I wonder why- why didn't I know them? After all, they were my grand uncles and grand aunts! I could understand it more had we lived in a different state or country, but the families lived less than 20 miles or so apart!
I grew up in Louisiana, separated from the Stogner family by distance, yet I visited often during holidays and summer breaks. I rarely heard mention of my grandparents' siblings. Why is that? Since my grandparents are deceased, I can't seek an explanation from them. What brought about the familial distance between them? I realize that some families tend to fall away from each other as time progresses- so I wonder, was that the case here? Were the siblings close to each other to begin with? Perhaps not. If there were family reunions, I wasn't there nor had knowledge of them. Sigh.
I only know that while I browse through the photos of the strangers, who were my family, I sense a feeling of loss. I observe their images on film and wonder who they were, as people. What were their beliefs, their ethics, their thoughts and behaviors? I somehow missed out on knowing this whole other side of my family. I sense they were good people and I know I would have loved them.
All I have are the photos and a few tidbits of demographical information on them. I have no stories to share about their lives and no real knowledge to carry forward in their honor. All the more reasons why families should stay in touch with each other- not only for themselves and the sake of family ties, but for future generations to come. Family stories and memories become buried under the heap of yesterdays if they're not treasured and kept alive today.