The finished map amazes William Rodgers, 82, who grew up in Arkansas and had three sons with his wife, who died in February. Two sons live in Oklahoma City and the third also lives in Silver Spring, Md.
“When I moved here a year ago I started going to a caregiver's class and the first two people I met lived roughly where I did growing up in Arkansas,” he said. “The map reminds me people don't necessarily have to be born and raised in a little town anymore, they're scattered all over the place.”
And distance is no longer a barrier when it comes to keeping up with family. Technology has changed that. Woodson delights in talking to his grandkids via Skype on his iPad. He's amazed he can read the Farmington, N.M., newspaper on the device.
“They can see us and I can see them,” Woodson said. “I recently watched one of my grandson's baseball games on the iPad.”
The map also represents the most important things in life to participants in the project — their families. Rodgers gets together with his sons often. He recently returned from a reunion in Arkansas that included 37 members of his family.
“Family is very important to me,” he said. “By the sheer number of people at our reunion you can tell it's important. My sons and I are big sports fans. We play golf. We root for our baseball teams. Spending that time together has always been very important to me.”
Woodson, a retired school principal and superintendent, also is a jail chaplain. He baptized his grandson and granddaughters.
He sums up family and the importance of maintaining those connections this way: “We remember birthdays, holidays and everything in between. Our kids have been successful and have been great kids. They look after their mom and pop. There's nothing more important than that. Not money. Not jobs. It's what comes first.”