Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors - #13 - Family Loss - Jessica Samuel Gray

Alan and Jessica Samuel
Probably 1935 or 1936

Today was a sad day. My Aunt Jessica was laid to rest after nearly 79 years on this earth. But this post is not really about her - it's about maintaining family connections. Jessica was my father's sister. After many years of being estranged, she and my father rekindled their relationship a year or so before he passed away in 2008.

At his mother's service today, my cousin Lowell reminded us of the importance of family. It seems the smaller our family becomes, the more we work to stay connected. Our respective parents would be happy to see that their re-connection has extended to my generation and hopefully beyond.

Jessica was laid to rest in her parents' plot in Sharon Gardens, Valhalla, New York. I knew my grandparents were there as well as my Aunt Connie and her husband.

My grandmother, Hortense,  and her sister, Constance (my Aunt Connie) were much better planners than others in my family. According to my cousin Pam (whom I saw today for the first time since her parents' deaths in 1999), the plot was purchased to allow enough space for them all. Pam also mentioned that she and her sister Nancy have no intention of being buried there as they prefer cremation. Made for some interesting graveside conversation.

The last time I was there was in 1999 for my aunt and uncle's service. There is a story there but today is not the time to tell it. This was before I began my genealogy work and it never occurred to me to take photos of the site.

Despite the sudden morning snowstorm and bone-chilling wind (it's March 31 for heavens sake!) I was able to take pictures of the family site.

My paternal grandfather, Edgar Aaron Samuel
My paternal grandmother, Hortense Kesner Samuel

My aunt, Constance Kesner Margand and her husband Emmanuel Victor Margand
The quotation says: "Praise is well. Compliment is well. But affection -
that is the last and final and most precious reward that any man can win.""

My uncle's mother - her husband is buried in England
It wasn't until I returned home and downloaded the pictures did I realize that today is the 41st anniversary of my grandfather's death. My grandmother, so distraught after his death, died of what my mother called "a broken heart" within weeks. My maternal grandmother, Rose Spiegel Lichtenthal had died on October 29, 1972. I lost all of my grandparents within a 7 month period. (My maternal grandfather, Paul Lichtenthal, had died years before in 1959.)

Today, Lowell and his family are facing a similar string of losses. My heart goes out to him and his girls. I hope that their pain lessens day-by-day but I know that, in reality, it will ebb and flow with little reason. My promise to my aunt is that I will stay connected.                         

Rest in Peace, Aunt Jessica - say hi to Dad, Nana and Pop-Pop. Your first family is now together again.


  1. So sorry about your aunt. Your post is so poignant, showing that family ties are so precious. Thank you for sharing and I hope you have good memories of happy times with your loving aunt and family.

  2. So sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in our prayers.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the post.