Momento Mori

This month our family lost one of its oldest surviving members. My father’s oldest cousin. The first grandchild of James E. Foster and Emma (Lawhead) Foster, my great grandparents.

Indiana birth certificate, 1914, “Waneta” Geneva McCammon (Image courtesy Ancestry.com)

Born in 1914, Juanita lived a long life! It was a life filled with tragedy early on. Her mother died when she was not yet five. Her only full sibling, Wesley, died in a car accident on his way to school, aged 11. Her father remarried and produced a large family with his second wife. Jesse McCammon survived until his 101st year, but his daughter surpassed him by celebrating her 103rd birthday last November.

I never met Juanita in person. I corresponded with her a few times after I discovered who she was. I even helped, in a small way, to bridge an introduction between Juanita and another first cousin whose branch of the family had disappeared for 50 years. Juanita shared some lovely stories of my grandmother and my great grandmother Emma. After Juanita’s mother died, she spent parts of her childhood living between her two sets of grandparents.

Gladys Foster with Juanita and Wesley, 1918 (Image author’s private collection)

My grandmother, Gladys, was only ten years older than her niece so they were close when they were younger. When my uncles John and Mark were young, Juanita came to stay for a while to help take care of the boys, while Gladys ran her beauty parlour and Roscoe attended medical school.

I am most grateful to Juanita because she left me a legacy, beyond her letters and stories. Her DNA. Several years ago, unbeknownst to me, her family asked her to do an autosomal DNA test. I use this data on a regular basis. Most likely, without really knowing it, Juanita has helped me to solve several family mysteries over the last few years. I will be forever grateful for Juanita’s willingness to take a DNA test. Rest in peace, dear cousin!

©2018 copyright Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2018/01/20/momento-mori/

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