Sadly, yesterday morning, Mother’s Day, my maternal grandmother, Alice Elizabeth McNair Robinson, passed away. She was 86 years old. Affected by Alzheimers these past several years, she fell ill a few weeks ago from an infection and never fully recovered. She was the last one of all her parent’s children and my last biological grandparent.
Alice is truly the inspiration for my family research. While the grave of my father’s grandfather Barfield was my initial hook into wanting to know my family; Alice was very much my line and sinker. . Alice always knew what was going on with her many family members and always kept in touch with everyone. I was fortunate enough to have learned many details from her one day when I was in college from an oral interview I conducted and when I picked up genealogy in 2006, my notes from that interview were the basis of my family tree. From there, I began to actively seek out additional sources, information, and family members.
I have to share an amazing story though. My mother often said that Grandma would find a cousin wherever she went. She was naturally outgoing, so would talk to people all the time and invariably find some connection. Grandma passed away at 5am EST, but I had a Grandma “moment” yesterday afternoon that I undoubtedly know was her doing.
I am in DC right now on a business trip. The hotel agent who checked me in had excellent customer service skills. I was impressed by it, so planned on letting management know and I wanted to be sure I had her name. I did a double-take when I saw that her last name was McNair, same as my grandmother’s maiden name! It’s hard for me to pass up the opportunity to ask about a surname I know, so I asked her about it and it turns out her husband’s family is also from NC; as my own McNair ancestors and cousins. We spoke for awhile and she indicated that his family was related to football player Steve McNair. I’ve heard from extended cousins that we are also, though right now I don’t know exactly how. If true, I came all the way to DC and found a cousin – a total Grandma moment indeed.
Rest in peace Grandma. We love you and miss you and I will do my best to fill your family history shoes.