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Uncle Joe and the Crawl

Most of us have been on a good old-fashioned pub crawl at some point in our lives. You know, where you start off having an adult beverage with friends in one spot, and you proceed en masse to another establishment, and then another, and… you get the idea. Oftentimes these crawls focus on the social aspect of meeting new friends and checking out a different venue that everyone's been talking about.

I went on a crawl of sorts this summer: a cemetery crawl! I have some childhood roots in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburbs, and one weekend I found myself footloose and fancy free. So I called my relatives on the Martinelli side of the family and invited myself up for a visit. (Yes, I know – "Martinelli" is a far cry from "Smith." I'm part Italian, for those of you who have seen me use my hands when words just aren't strong enough to make my point!)
My cousin Linda and my Uncle Joe were happy to host me for my trip, and I got to talking about our relatives, and asking for history and family stories to fill in some of the gaps I have about my ancestors, one of whom I am named for – Mary Margaret Martinelli, or "Baby Margie," who passed away at three months. Uncle Joe offered to be my guide for this trip back in time, so we headed off, and it was a beautiful day for a cemetery crawl! Over a couple of days, we meandered around some cemetery grounds to our family's dearly departed, with Uncle Joe providing commentary about each person when we paused at a headstone. We also visited a surprising number of homes where Uncle Joe and other family members had lived for periods of time, passed by schools he had attended, and walked the roads that generations of Martinellis had wandered. Thank goodness for Uncle Joe's memory, because some of this information would surely have been lost if he weren't here to pass it on. Each person, and each place, had a story and a personality that added another scrap of color to the patchwork that is our family.
This was a weekend that I had definitely unplugged from all things work-related, but I couldn't help it: my "work brain" kicked in, and pointed something out to me about the mobility of my own forebears, even way back then. My great-grandmother was an immigrant, taking a chance on a new country as countless others have done before and since, and as so many do today for a job and life that holds promise and adventure – and an acceptable amount of risk. And my other family members were remarkably mobile, too. Though they may only have moved a few miles from one home to another, they moved – some of them several times! – for their jobs, or a different house or neighborhood, or a better school, or to be near other family members. Whatever the reason, they were compelled to change their lives and homes in some way, and did so with flexibility and practicality and a sense of exploration.
Just the approach we hope our transferees and assignees will have when they get the call for an opportunity across the state, or the country, or the world. Not so much has changed after all. Right, Uncle Joe?


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