Category Archives: Family

Visiting Great-Grandpa’s Grave!

This past week we visited Portland, Oregon.  On the day after my 49th birthday, Shando and I were heading for a day trip to the Astoria area, which in and of itself is a fascinating place.  I knew that my great-grandfather, Floyd Leonard Hayden, used to live in that area from his death certificate, and I have a picture of him and great-grandma in nearby Seaside from 1914 (they are the couple on the left below).  

Coincidentally Seaside is the town where my daughter’s maternal grandfather retired.  My daughter’s mother and all of her aunts and uncles on that side were born in Multnomah County, Oregon.

Shando helped me find the grave online the morning we were heading to Astoria.  Floyd was interred about 25 miles outside of Astoria in a little town called Westport that I realized I had driven through before, without even knowing my relative was buried yards from where I was driving.  Someone on had taken a picture of the tombstone last year, so we knew it had to be current.  Great-grandpa was born in 1892 (exactly 100 years before my daughter) and died in 1917 (exactly 100 before this visit), so he was only 25 when he died.  His wife was pregnant with their second child.  My grandfather, Andrew Jackson Hayden, was only a toddler at the time.  This picture of my Floyd was probably taken around 1915.  

Floyd’s tombstone, probably taken at his funeral in 1917.   I bet no one has been to visit his grave for over 90 years!

As shown below, the top part of the tombstone had come off and was leaning against the base.  Shando and I had to lift it together, since it was so heavy, but it was unstable back on the base, as the ground underneath it now leans forward, so we put it back to the leaning position.

As if that wasn’t fascinating enough, later that day, we went to a place called Camp 18, which has a memorial for loggers who died over the decades.  It was very sad to see so many men (I believe it has only been men) who have fallen for the purpose of logging, some as recently as last year, but great-grandpa was not memorialized among them since the memorial had been founded decades after he died.  Still, I signed the guest book on his behalf and put the details of what I heard about his death from logging, and that he was buried nearby.


I remember in one of our family trips back from the Sacramento area I was playing music with my Mom in the front seat.  Shando was always a gentleman and sat in the back when she rode with us.  I loved it when an old classic that Mom knew would come on, whether it be from Italy or some other place.  She loved Nat King Cole, Julio Iglesias, Engelbert Humperdinck and Josh Groban even.  Caruso was a classic Italian song I never quite mastered memorizing, but it was a song she obviously knew well.  Playing music in the car kept me awake and in some cases minimized her nagging me, although now of course I would take her nagging me about anything I miss her so much.

One time an Italian song came on that I knew the words to, and my mother was floored.  I’ll never forget her cackling in laughter, cracking up as I sang Lara Fabian’s Adagio in the original Italian.  She could not fathom that I would memorize an Italian song that she never heard of and  she just thought it was the funniest thing in the world that I was singing in her mother tongue.  It’s an extraordinary song by a singer who is of Italian heritage from Belgium and my Mom just enjoyed the heck out the moment, and I was so proud that I could share this moment with her serendipitously.  I think it helped Mom to believe that I would never truly be far removed from our family in Calabria if I could accomplish something like this without her knowing.  The odds of that song coming up out of the tens of thousands on my 180GB iPod was kismet, because I never again had a chance to sing that song to my mother.  The important thing, though, was that we had a magical musical moment and I got to impress her and show off to her.  

Here are the lyrics in English and then Italian:

I don’t know where to find you; I don’t know how to look for you
But I feel a voice in the wind that speaks about you
This soul without a heart waits for you slowly
 The nights without skin; The dreams without stars
 Images of your face that pass suddenly make me hope still that I will  find you slowly
 I close my eyes and I see you
I find the way to the door from agony
 I feel it beat in me
This music that I’ve invented for you
 If you know how to find me; If you know where to look for me
Embrace me with your mind
The sun seems to me extinguished
Ignite your name in the sky
 Tell me who you are; The one that I want lives in you
 The sun seems to me extinguished
Embrace me with your mind; I’m lost without you
 Tell me who you are and I will believe in us
You are music, slowly.
Non so dove trovarti, non so come cercarti
ma sento una voce che, nel vento parla di te
quest’anima senza cuore aspetta te adagio
 Le notti senza pelle i sogni senza stelle immagini del tuo viso, che passano all’improvviso mi fanno sperare ancora che ti troverò adagio 
Chiudo gli occhi e vedo te trovo il cammino che mi porta via dall’agonia sento battere in me questa musica che ho inventato per te
 Se sai come trovarmi, se sai dove cercarmi
abbracciami con la mente il sole mi sembra spento
accendi il tuo nome in cielo, dimmi che ci sei, quello che vorrei, vivere in te
 Il sole mi sembra spento, abbracciami con la mente
smarrita senza di te dimmi chi sei e ci crederò
musica sei, adagio…

Shando’s Cousin and Garden Party

We had a whirlwind day with several events, including my friend Gary’s garden party at his gorgeous home on the San Leandro/Oakland border.  There are a few pictures from his garden.  We also had a chance to see Shando’s cousin and her husband on their way to their trip in Hawaii, since we weren’t able to attend their wedding in Las Vegas several months earlier due to the cheap airline we booked cancelling our flight at the last minute for no apparent reason.

Post-fire Family Gathering

This is probably the last video footage with mom’s voice, although sadly she is not pictured.  When Shando and I were at Yosemite and Alex and Brian were flying to visit from NYC, my mom’s house was totalled in a fire.  This is the gathering we had with my sister’s family who came down from the Sacramento area.  My nephew gets his clown antics from my brother.

Thanksgiving in Coppell, Texas

It was great to see my sister and her beautiful family, which had come in from Tennessee and Arizona.  I finally got a chance to introduce them to Shando and see a new grand-niece who was just born a few months ago.  Yes, they have a pet prairie dog.  While talking about our family history there I got inspired to join again.  I encourage people to join.  Hopefully they will reduce the price if more people join.

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