Being a Re-Memberer
Updated: Feb 25, 2019
Each of us is full of memories. In my case, I have realized that my memories are a link to the past, to those special people in the Hagemeyer family who have slipped out of sight. I am one of the last in our family who has personal recollection of the looks, the voices, the personality of my Hagemeyer grandparents, Siebe and Bauwina. And I am the one who is in the best position to share those details with a new generation.
Why should anyone care? As young people we often do not think very much about the past because we have so much going on in the present and we’re dreaming of the future. But as we get a little older, we often wish we knew more about the past. And it takes time before we realize that we know things that will slip away into obscurity or lost completely when our eyes close for the last time. This is how I discovered that I have the job of telling the family story. I want to tell it so others can appreciate life in the light of that story. I feel privileged, since I know quite a few things that others do not. Because I am one of the last. And it is a sweet privilege.
I am a link in a long chain. This is my time to be the re-memberer. Remembering is actually re-membering, to knit together pieces that belong together. This is a very special responsibility. Maybe you, my reader, are in this position, too, and will likewise be inspired to do this.
Here’s how I hope to fulfill this purpose. First, I am creating an online album of all the photos I have gathered, with captions to explain the pictures. This presents some technical challenges, but I think it’s really worth it. You can see Siebe and Bauwina’s wedding picture at the bottom right of my home page. There they were, in 1902, starting their married life together.
Second, I am writing a factual narrative of their life and their connections to other relatives past and present. To do this I am taking what I learned from my father (d. 1991) or others like cousin Cliff or cousin Larry, and adding my personal memories. Additionally, I have information gathered from obituaries of relatives (many of them in German fraktur). Finally I will weave in the facts that show up on legal documents from the Chippewa County Recorder’s office.
Last, I am writing their story in the form of historical fiction, telling Opa Siebe and Oma Bauwina’s story in a story form, expanding the facts with my intuition and imagination. This is the most fun for me.
These three projects will all be growing at the same time. Some parts like the first two chapters in fictional form are already posted in the Hagemeyer Family Corner on this website. The projects will also be growing and changing as they develop. Sometimes items will be expanded, revised, or corrected as I go along. It’s an exciting challenge for me. But I have special resources. My Dad had that long-range memory, going way back to their early days in Minnesota, since he was born in 1902. He remembered things that no one else does. He and his generation are now gone. So I am a link connecting Dad’s memories to mine and to my Opa and Oma, as we called them. I remember some of their habits, the patterns that shaped their days. I want to make those special people of a pioneering generation come alive for others who never knew them.
What a privilege it is for me. What a wonderful job. I hope it is a blessing for every reader.