“Where’s James?” I knew something was wrong. Madeleine and Kenny were racing around the house, running upstairs and down, chasing each other and giggling. They didn’t hear me as my voice got louder,”Where’s James?!” I knew something was wrong. No one answered me on the third “WHERE’S JAMES?!!” , but I was already halfway down the stairs knowing that this search was going to be mine alone. Everyone else in the house was too wrapped up in what they were doing to really hear me.
The three little ones had been playing outside just a few minutes earlier, but there was no sign of James when I looked out of any of the windows. I opened the door and met the cold winter air without a coat and shoes and raced around the deck and gazebo, the garage and the front yard. Then I looked at the car sitting in the middle of the driveway. On the back seat, tears streaming down his face, James stood pounding on the window screaming. He’d only been stuck inside for a few minutes, but to a 3-year-old that’s an eternity when you feel helpless.
I let him out and he clung to me as he sobbed, “I couldn’t get out, Mommy. I was locked in.” How long would he have been trapped if I hadn’t come outside? He went back to playing after telling me he’d gone in the car for a water bottle and had tried to get out every door, even the trunk, but they were all stuck. He wasn’t strong enough to open the doors by himself.
Years ago I was given an 1864 Civil War Soldier’s Bible from my mother because it was a family heirloom and was related to family history. There was a cryptic message written in pencil three times inside the front and back cover that had always confused us:
“Henry C. Moody. My mother is Edith Moody. My mother lives in Cambridgeport. Moody of Lowell.” There were numbers and other illegible words that seemed like a code to a street address. We never knew.
Last night at 7pm, after a long 24 hours filled with visiting with an overnight guest, walking to children’s art shows, endless laundry, and playing outside, I sat with my head leaning on my left hand, staring at the computer screen while a late dinner cooked in the oven and children munched on popcorn to tide them over while it finished.
I was looking for a story to tell, again.
I had a thought to switch my search from my great great grandfather Thomas Kelley, to his wife Estelle Moody. Maybe I could find a story in her life to tell today. When I noticed that I’d forgotten to add her brother Henry to the family I spent a few minutes searching for online records of him to add to her story.
The name was familiar, but I’d never studied Henry’s life. Slowly the pieces of forgotten memories of a name in a little Bible were calling to me, begging me to pay attention as I perused records on Ancestry.com. I wanted to stop and reach behind my chair to my family history collection of files and “stuff” to look at the Bible, but the screen had loaded Henry’s records and I was torn between two tasks. I stopped and stared and tried to make sense of what I was seeing.
Henry, at 14-years-old, was living away from his parents who lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, on a farm in Maine. Four years later he’s enlisted as a private in Company G, Maine 32nd Infantry Regiment. He’d just turned 18 on Christmas day, 4 months earlier.
U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles about Henry C Moody
|Name:||Henry C Moody|
|Age at enlistment:||18|
|Enlistment Date:||16 Apr 1864|
|Rank at enlistment:||Private|
|Survived the War?:||No|
|Service Record:||Mustered out at Hospital.
Enlisted in Company G, Maine 32nd Infantry Regiment on 16 Apr 1864.
|Birth Date:||abt 1846|
|Sources:||Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine|
I slowly studied the facts on the record, gasped and then cried out, “He died!” which brought Madeleine to my side asking how I knew him? I started to tear up when I opened the tiny Bible under the light of the living room lamp with Madeleine leaning on my shoulder. The chicken scratch inside the book finally made sense. They were names and numbers of his regiment in Maine.
All of the busyness and noise of the day slipped away. An incredible calm came over me. I’d found someone who really felt lost. It was as if he’d been screaming to be heard for 148 years. And there he was. Now I know where he is and can get to know him and his sister Estelle, my great great grandmother better.
Henry wanted to be remembered. His desperation was palpable. I think he knew his end was near. And all he had was the Bible with a few tidbits of information that would link him to the living when he was gone and someone would pass his personal effects over to a next of kin, his mom.
I was humbled for the rest of the night and whenever I woke up he was on my mind. And I smiled.
He has been here all along.
I was reminded to save a part of every day to listen.
Can you hear any of your ancestors trying to get your attention?