When I started this journey, I never thought I would be still researching seven years later. And I never thought I would have found so much information about my family. My focus has been trying to find any and all information I can about my relatives and ancestors. I have spent many hours in libraries and research centers looking at microfilm and going through old newspapers. I have compiled a great many death certificates, marriage licenses, and birth records. This information has helped me put together a story about the different members of my family. But there is one story that I know better than any other that needs to be added. That is the story of myself.
I started a family history scrapbook a few years ago. It has pictures and information for my siblings, my parents, my great grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. I was going through this scrapbook a few weeks ago and noticed that I still haven’t completed my own page with a photo and information about myself. I have put it off time and time again deciding that finding information on the rest of my family and getting that completed was more important than completing my own page. I have found over the years that I’m usually the one who takes pictures of people and am rarely in the photos. I have to make more of a conscious effort to give my camera to someone, so I too can be in some pictures.
I don’t consider myself a writer at all, I just write out my memories of some of the things I have done during this journey for this blog so far. But when I decided on this topic, for some reason I didn’t know where to start. I have never been very good at talking about myself or listing my accomplishments. But I’m going to give it a try because no one knows my story better than I do. And who can tell my story better than I can?
I am the youngest of three children born to Wayman and Patricia (Hatchett) Mays. I have an older brother and sister. I grew up in a small town in Northeast Arkansas, Newport. I grew up in the same town that my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were born. My teachers either taught my parents or were my parents’ childhood friends. My childhood friends were children of my parent’s friends and the grandchildren of my grandparent’s friends. My childhood consisted of me going to school, church, and hanging out with my friends. I played high school basketball and wore number 30 before it became popular. My senior year of high school I decided to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville making me the third generation in my family to attend.
The University of Arkansas is I where I met my husband, Phillip Cummings. I also met some of my closest friends while in college. Although I loved history and reading I didn’t choose either as a major because I thought with a degree in one of those I could only teach. And I didn’t see myself as a teacher, so I decided to major in the third thing I was interested in, Health Science. While in college I was active in the Black Students Association, Health Science Club, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, intramural sports, and I worked with the women’s soccer team as their student athletic trainer for one season. I had a part-time job most of the time I was in college. And ironically I had an internship with the American Red Cross teaching CPR and First Aid classes. The time I spent at the University of Arkansas were among some of the best years of my life. To this day anytime I’m back on campus, I get a warm fuzzy home-like feeling.
After college Phillip and I got married in 2000 and had our son, Wesley, in 2002. Once married I decided that I would hyphenate my last name to Mays-Cummings. My maiden name has always been important to me and a part of my identity. My hyphenated last name is now a reflection of my past and my present. My new name has been the topic of many of conversation with friends and family throughout the years. If you had asked me back when I arrived in Fayetteville in 1995 if I would still be in Northwest Arkansas today, I would have given you a profound and loud NO. But I am still here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have now lived in Northwest Arkansas longer than I lived in Newport but I still consider Newport as my hometown.
I have a quiet, strong nature about me that I have been told can be intimidating to others. I have always spoken my mind even when it doesn’t benefit me which leads many people to think I am mean when we first meet. But once people get to know me they realize that I’m just an outspoken and honest person. I am a very confident person, but I’m also shy around people who I don’t know. I like being able to do things for myself which makes it hard for me to ask others for help. Although I have a degree in Health Science, I have never had a job in that field. I have worked in quality management for the past 15 years. I love spending time with my family and friends, cooking, and traveling. I am very much a homebody. I would much rather be home with family and friends than being out and about around town.
As a family historian, I want to tell the stories of all the generations of my family that I have discovered. But I must admit that I haven’t been focused on getting stories from my own generation including myself. This is something that I need to start working on. My generation’s story is just as important as all the other generations not to mention I have access to so many people in my generation. This is information that future generations can learn from as well. As I continue to learn about my family, I am not only learning about myself, but I am also remembering my own story. And this is why my journey continues….