I live one mile from the hospital where I was born, but nearly 500 miles from the city where I was raised. My parents, siblings and I moved to Jacksonville, Fla., in 1988, leaving behind the city where my parents grew up. When we got to Florida and didn’t have a palm tree in our yard, I was certain it meant we should turn around and head back to Alabama.
It took 15 years, but I returned to Alabama in 2003. And in the nearly decade since, I’ve found that my family history is still all over this city. I’ve had Vulcan Park and Museum on the mind a lot lately, and whenever I think of that most visible landmark, I think of my namesake. When my Pepaw, Carl Eugene Vann, died, the family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to either Vulcan or TEARS Animal Rescue. (Pepaw would love my cat Mac, and I’m sure she would be obsessed with him as well. He always had a way with animals.)
When Birmingham magazine ran its annual cutest pet contest last summer, one of the staff favorites was a litter of kittens from a momma cat who was rescued at South Highland Presbyterian Church. It wasn’t a surprise when I realized the owner of those cats knew my Uncle Joe, who was there the night momma was found.
One of my best buddies at work is a fellow animal lover who has known my Aunt Laura for about as long as I’ve been alive. Joey and Veronica Kennedy have long ties to Birmingham magazine and my family, and I feel like they’ve become extended family. (They’re also particularly adept at adopting people.)
This summer, a friend of the Kennedys and mine realized that my Pepaw’s brother, who we call Uncle Andy, is her Papaw’s best friend. When she asked her Papaw if he knew Andy’s brother Carl, his response was, “You mean Sorghum?” If he knew my Pepaw’s nickname, then I’m betting he knew Pepaw fairly well.
Although I haven’t yet lured my parents or siblings back to Birmingham, this city is where the roots of my family tree are concentrated. I can’t put my finger on what makes Birmingham my home, but perhaps it’s just that my DNA is tied up in this town.
This #bloglikecrazy topic was to write about family. With the holidays upon us, it’s often on our minds, and I’m glad I got to see my parents and brother over Thanksgiving. Today’s subject line is from the Sandra McCracken song “Family Name.”