As is the nature of seasons, there is the ending of one season as the new one comes forward. And there must be the mourning for the things that were of that time. Were the mourning not possible we could never take ownership of their gifts
The new millennium, the century the new year ushered in the 2000s and deaths of both of our fathers’s brothers Ralph and Jim, and their first cousin, Louise Ellen (Vicky) Sheppard. Within our nuclear family was the unthinkable and tragic premature death of Pat, David’s mid life love, wife and best friend, my sister, and third grandmother to David, Alex and Anna. Brother David has continued to follow Pat’s inspiration for travel and has recently traveled to the ice of the far north and the far south and the glaciers of Patagonia. He has been so generous in sharing his incredible photos I wish I could include even a tenth of them.
The young folks are what this project is about. Siblings and cousins are the first friends we have; and thank goodness for them, for no one else can be relied on to understand the mythology, quirks and context unique to family.
To be with family even sporadically and after long intervals is to feel the ground more solid under the feet.
I don’t know which inspires more awe in me, the experience of the living of a long span of life or observing those we love doing so.
The entrance of the generation that will outlive ours had certainly brought added inspiration, though at the time not so much was thought of when brother David and wife Carol Appleyard Watkins brought Thomas C. and Gregory K. into the family and the world.
Two active curious, really rambunctious boys who recognized few limits to what they might learn or create, other than not so rambunctious they haven’t lost a step in discovering and pursuing passions.
David and Carol parted ways as the two boys were moving into adolescence and work conspired to aggravate the separations for the boys.
But their determination made it through and the college degrees were earned and first jobs were begun.
Standing: Gregory K., Pat, C. David C.,Tammie W. Dawn D. & Thomas C. Watkins. Front: W. Lorraine Watkins. Early 1990s.
Parents’ remarriages came about and then all of a sudden, it seems all in this direct line from Edward of !7th century Boston were beginning new adventures.
This latest page will consist of pictorial and written representations of fragmentary older memories, newly made memories and information than cohesive narrative.Photographs I have included; to represent the unfolding of the narrative were shared in emails, hacked from FaceBook and a variety of other places. As to the photographs, we rarely take formal posed photographs so most are snapshots during vacations and may give the impression that all we do is climb mountains, hike, and ride bicycles or boats in exotic places.
Gregory first in marriage to Tammie Wike and then Thomas to Dawn Day.
The boys were soon dealing with their own active curious, really rambunctious children who also recognize few limits.
Grateful that the family documents in the snapshots that come sporadically in various numbers. The few I put into this work are the result of randomness and an effort to continue in a more or less linear presentation.
Thomas and Dawn and Greg and Tammie are coping with settling into the demands of mid-life. Thomas and Dawn are in their own businesses, Thomas Watkins Photography and Dawn, PVS Interiors. Their professional work abundantly fulfills the promise present in many of our family, a need for and priceless sense of beauty and its creation.
None have lost their energy and are each invested in interests outside work and the nuts and bolts of family life.
For Thomas, his appreciation of the aesthetic carries over into his pleasure of restoring the beauty of classic motorcycles, coupled skills which I have come to appreciate since the emergence of Pawn Stars.
After seemingly being settled in North Carolina, the life-style of Northern California sang a siren song and Greg, Tammie and David made the move to Chico, California where Greg has become Full Professor at Cal. State at Chico. Tammie is pursuing her career in environmental engineering in private industry.
They have found and love the larger community that shares their affection for biking, triathlon, craft beers, good food and sharing with friends and family.
In 2004 Greg participated in the International Triathlon Union championships in Madeira. His photographs and wonderfully descriptive day to day emails are priceless and I have them archived.
In 2013 Greg successfully completed in the Lake Tahoe Triathlon Ironman competition, an accomplishment that all triathletes aspire to but few are able to achieve. Greg has another talent, perhaps more common among the Watkins. It is the ability to write beautifully. His tick tock diary account of his participation in the Ironman events is simply wonderful and for those who are curious about what these fine athletes find in the sport will lend understanding.It may be read here.
David shares his parent’s love of music and the family recreations of triathlon. He is mixing college with work and living independently as he explores what track the future will offer for fulfillment.
Alex is accomplished in baseball which he plans to pursue into college. His high school team gave him high praise in the news for his contributions to the team this past year. The end of season sports news account may be read here.
Anna continues with her passion for horses and for learning. The last time I saw her she was also very interested in drawing. How could either of the pair not have the wonderful eye of an artist, whatever they may want to do with it?
I have followed a traditional family history in presenting the male lineage, but it also has been important to me to add what I know of the maternal branches. I believe they are so important to what makes a whole person and the whole family.
We have as adults always been spread out and much involved in living independent lives it takes an effort to pause and just show up. That makes the group photos more precious as they usually celebrate special and memorable events, this Alex’s high school graduation.
I am also struck with the power of the virtually universal drive to find oneself in the “other,” through similarities in appearance, then behavior. I suppose this is the first step in emotional connection and the learning process.
I find myself pleased to see my father’s hands and forearms in Thomas and the Hirst dimple in the chins of all the males. I see my brother;s face on his grandson and namesake. The source our tendency to large free floating ears is found in a letter to our great grandmother Ellen Clark from her mother’s sister Bettie Proffitt-Harrington; “Tell John I think his a handsome face and when I looked at it I felt like hugging and kissing it with that Proffitt ear just like all my brothers.” Prairie Tree Letters, page 182.
I love looking at the interesting mixtures of genes the progeny of our wandering pioneer family that are manifested in their faces, bodies, even manners. Surely the Watkins spring wire gray hair comes from the “streak of white tha adorned both our Clark and Hirst grandmothers. Looking at Betty Watkins Ogden’s granddaughter Kaitlyn Ogden (the youngest of her generation) I see the beautiful Eastern eyes of her mother seated in a Watkins head and wonder will she have that white hair or will her mother’s heritage prevail?
On the Cooke side I surprise myself at my pleasure at Cooke cousin Maxine Cooke Nathanson having commented on just how much I look like our beloved Cardwell-Cooke Gram. The memories of times of love and care by family come. One of the beautiful cousins of my wartime adolescence I have a birthday greeting to her on the site.
I am amused at how traditional the photo of Maxine helping her granddaughter light a Menorah appears while knowing Maxine is a Baptist and half Kiowa. What is traditional is the connection between the generations.
I claim the personal privilege of giving special attention and thanks to family who saw me me through the early part of all the stresses of a first time serious illness. First Thomas and Greg, then Tammie who came from California. Then during the early part of the chemotherapy Jim Watkins’ children, cousins Pat and Anne and family who came for a glorious weekend that sustained my spirits.
January 2008, Top: Thomas, Anne Watkins Jenkins. Below Charles Jenkins, James P. Watkins, Demise Honeycutt Watkins
The recent loss of the two Cooke cousins most contemporary and precious to me has been difficult.
Shirley Westfall McCormick, my co-conspirator in the short vignette Gramma Educates Shirley and Lorraine, died in 2009. Her obituary speaks of her full and productive life. I still so admire her as I did as a teen. Known as Topeka’s “Ms. Mayor” long after husband Bill had left office she was as dearly loved and appreciated by her community as by family. Link to the newspaper accounts.
Kathleen Thurman Pennington was also such a loss for me. I felt her love more fully than any of the other family. I am so grateful for the two brief visits we had in the nineties and 2000. The pain of losing Kathleen was made greater by the death of her first son Alan (Granvil A.) not long after. As a teen I had spent a good bit of the summer in Lawton during Kathleen’s pregnancy with Alan. He was the first baby I ever held. Kathleen later related I had been the first baby she as a teenager had held. Alan had a successful career at NASA retiring as Flight Director. and also as the science fiction writer Hawkswind.
I will be adding a sub page with more comments and sketches of the various cousins who are and have been important to us.
No Watkins history is complete without the friendships we have had with our fuzzy and four footed friends. For me there was Pete and Louis. And of course there was Peggy Sue the cocker who too early in life caught a car she had had the propensity to chase. And of course for the nephews and family there were the Dalmatians Andy, Max and Cotton and Sweet Willie the German Shorthair. I still have the screen with the capacious rip in it from them plunging through to get to the deck.
This particular picture and the casual relating between Alex Cat and stranger Charles Jenkins is iconic and suggests that there has been a lot of learning in the environment of family in other species. Alex just automatically knows if he lifts his head a human will scratch it and Charles deep in conversation with Thomas reflexively obliges.
There is of course also a new generation of furry family members that bring joy..
Just as in human families, my Alex and Claudette may look like Pete and Louise. But they surely are cut from a different cloth personality-wise. They came to live with me in 2007.
Alex was already two and had had good training so Claudette (and I) had the good fortune to have him to teach her all kinds of cat things, including the proper place to sharpen claws and how to open every door in the house.
Tammie just posted the other day the joys of Serotta. Now it is Sierra and Henry. Otis the biggest ugliest baddest dog in Georgia lives with Thomas, Dawn, Alex and Anna. There are others added by the time of each update.
In my own home we have lost Claudette and gained Jack. Jack was a feral who stayed around and smooched up long enough to come indoors. Now he acts like an indoor cat and goes out less than Alex, newly the outdoor. Alex is having quite a time adjusting to Jack and after eight years of “shyness” now wants to be a lap cat when indoors. Somehow I feel a bit like a possession to be guarded.
There are additions to the other households also. Photos will be posted as received.
To say our pets are important family members is to understate.
And the newest generations of Watkins, these of the 10th and 11th generations from Edward and Sarah of Colonial Boston, are well on their way.
The love and wisdom of ancestors, our parents and before, are the winds that fill our sails.
For me, at the age when emotion is the clearest memory, I will think of us all as the little boys and girls who who over the centuries and generations dress up and play at being like their mothers and fathers; whether with swords and imaginary chargers or, as noted by Aunt Emma, like our grandfather reading at every chance or at teaching school as recorded by Charlie Clark observing his “little mustang children.”
There is excitement in anticipation of seeing what unique passions they discover in themselves as they mature into the people they want to be.