Five years later, I’ve mellowed. I really don’t care if people know that I just had the best 65th birthday imaginable! And besides that I can now get senior rates at all the movies and Medicare! My simple little statin pill just went from being $400 a month (long story) to $10 a month. You can’t beat that!
It just happened that I spent my birthday with Saydi and her family and Shawni in Essex County, England, the homeland of all of the ancestors on my mother’s father’s side of the family. You can’t beat that either! But before we get to all that let me tell you about how I started my fun day:
Saydi is pretty much a gourmet cook and made sure that we had an extraordinary breakfast, even though we had to get everybody ready to step out the door at 9 a.m. for church.
Their Homeschool Room, turned into a sun-filled celebration room complete with banners, English scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam and ham, cheese, onion, mushroom eggs topped with avocado. Mmmmm!
Sitting in front of my plate were envelopes that contained 65 memories of our time together from the great Rickie and all the kids and grandkids. Another amazing feast that lasted all day! Every time there was a lull in the conversation, out popped more memories. Everyone, including Hazel took their turns to read. There were fun memories, hilarious memories, poignant memories and right down crazy memories! SO fun!
In addition, the kids presented me with beautiful birthday cards!
We headed out for church where Saydi made announcements for an upcoming activity and Jeff taught his first gospel doctrine lesson (his new calling). I must admit that I was blown away with Jeff brilliance in not only presenting the material but also his mastery of getting the class involved. This guy is incredibly smart! We already knew that but it was personified in that terrific lesson!
We thought we’d leave early from church for our Ancestor Adventure, but when we went to get in the car, there were 10 cars blocking us from getting out. It was ward conference and there were tons of stake visitors and the next ward just didn’t have anywhere else to park. That did not deter Saydi for a second. She went to a man in the other ward who somehow fished out everyone whose cars were behind us, they were moved lickety split and we were off!
Daniel Clark and Elizabeth Gower Clark were our first “right angle” ancestors who joined the Mormon church and then immigrated to the US to join fellow saints in their pilgrimage to Utah. He was born in 1815 in Colchester Essex, England and she was born in 1819 in a town not far away called Little Baddow and they were married in Colchester. A town which holds special significance to us because that is exactly where Jonah served the last part of his mission.
The Clarks had 11 children. Three died as infants and so they were left with nine children who were persecuted mercilessly for joining the church and not allowed to attend school. Dirt poor and full of the excitement of their new church and a new life, they headed for Liverpool, sailed to America and joined the Overland Company to make the long trip by foot and by covered wagon to join the Saints in Zion.
Daniel who had been a shoemaker did his best to become a cowhand as he nutured his family across the plains. As a night watchman of the cattle by the Platte River in Nebraska, he drank some polluted water and contracted cholera. Within three weeks he was dead. So sad! Elizabeth valiantly carried on with the children and settled in Utah. She is buried in Morgan, near where Saren now lives.
Back to England! Daniel’s father was named William, as was his father and his father. All were born and married in Colchester and many were buried there. The old church where Daniel and his father were married has been demolished but some walls of the really old church where his grandparents and great grandparents were married and/or buried was built by an ancient Roman Wall still stands. We had a fabulous time exploring the haunts of our dearly departed ancestors!
Below is the old Roman Wall and the church nearby where those ancestors feet walked all those years ago:
Here are Hazel and Charlie, standing in at the church door for William Clark and Hannah Hills who were married here.
See the old walls that are part of the original at another door seen below. Those ancestors would love these girls!
Here’s the back of the church which has been added on in recent times.
Another Grandfather was buried at a place called Lion Walk. There were two churches very near there so we’re not sure which churchyard he was buried at, but we know that we’re close! (note the daisy crown on my head that Hazel made for my birthday).
This is a newly rebuilt church in the center of town.
From there it was back to Grandma Elizabeth’s birthplace where she was raised with 9 brothers and sisters. As serendipity would have it Saydi’s best friend from high school (and life in general) lives with her husband Rob and their three adorable girls who have lived in England for five years now happen to live about 8 minutes from Little Baddow so they met us there for a walk through a wonderful 99 acre wood filled with bluebells. Those bluebells only bloom about three weeks a year and we happen to hit just right! They have probably been blooming ever since the Gower family lived there.
What a gorgeous birthday present!
We had a glorious time wandering through the woods!
What a memorable hour! After that fun little trek, we went to the two churches in Little Baddow where surely our Grandma’s parents and brothers and sister were married, harried and buried.
We ended the day with a hilarious Google + talk with some of the fam on the computer. Some were in church, some we couldn’t hear. Some we couldn’t see and some were in church (stake conference) and skyped anyway! Funny!
Jeff, while we were traipsing around the countryside was home taking care of Peter and Emmeline and made me a gorgeous flourless chocolate birthday cake. My favorite! The guys is amazing! I am a fan forever!
Thanks to the efforts of so many, it’s a birthday I’ll NEVER forget!