Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Moments of Forever

Parents belong to the world of the past; children belong to the world
of the future. Both share the world of the present, but neither can enter or fully understand the other's world and time. It is easier to communicate across miles than across years. We meet and laugh awhile;
we separate and grieve awhile. And then we remember.

--Joseph A. Bauer --





Over the weekend I was searching for some of the winter clothes I seem to have lost and came across the box of family mementos that I have accumulated since I began researching my family tree. Sitting there, at the kitchen table, surrounded by old photos, birth, and death certificates, old wills, and other remembrances of a time long ago, I found myself feeling rather emotional.  Picking up the photo of my great grandmother, Constance Mary, a woman I has never met, I marvel at the twinkle in her eye and her gentle smile. And then there was the stern face of my great grandfather, Ralph, who died in his early 30's. And then there is the marriage certificate from Norfolk, England of my great-great grandparents, Harriet and Richard along with Richard's death certificate.  He had died at the tender age of 21 when Constance Mary was only three months old.  Sad as it is to see someone die of wasting disease so young, had he lived, I might never have been born. Isn't there an old saying that 'Someone must die for another to be born"?  

Researching my ancestry was like putting a puzzle together.  Each piece had to fit in order for me to be born. It's been an amazing journey.   Had Richard lived, Harriet may not have relocated to the states.  Constance Mary and Ralph would never have met. And what an amazing tale of my great-grandmother on my maternal side.  She had gone to work as a servant in  my great-grandfather's home. The pair fell in love, married, and had a great love that spanned over 50 years.

My family had never been close, and, as an only child, it was quite a lonely life. Compounding this feeling of isolation was the fact that I was never allowed to meet my dad's family so I grew up kind of lost.  I didn't realize until later in life that I really didn't know who I was. After all, when you stop to think about it, we are our ancestors, and finding them is a good way to find ourselves. A piece of me was missing.  For example, I'd never been much of a gardener, but suddenly found that everything I touched grew like it was touched by magic.  Later, I received a photo of Constance Mary.  She was standing in her garden, tending her tomato plants.  Along with her genes, a green thumb was her gift to me.  

Human legacies allow us to reach out over the expanse of time and distance to join hands with our ancestors From your most distant relative to your own parents, every individual in each generation has passed many things down to you. Each one of us is a unique blend of genetic material inherited from our ancestors. Every breath we take we owe to them, this unimaginably long and unbroken line of forebears who managed to survive all of the hostile forces of nature.Genealogy is a way to honor the dead by keeping their memory alive.

The particular human chain we're part of is central to our individual identity. Even if we loathe our families, in order to know ourselves, we seem to need to know about them, just as prologue. Not to know is to live with some of the disorientation and anxiety of the amnesiac.


Elizabeth Stone

6 comments:

  1. How true Mary...so then we wonder how much of 'US' is pre destined, meant to be sorta stuff huh...

    You made me think of how I need to get all my family info back together. It's so easy to get lost in it all, and wonder.........

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  2. What a wonderful collection of heritage items, you have!

    Will one of your sons, want to keep them, for posterity?

    Hmmmm, nope I've not yet got going on my heritage. Another project... :-)

    "I am not young enough to know everything."
    - Oscar Wilde

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  3. Our ancestors made us as we made the next generation...

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  4. beautiful put Mary...my dad never knew his dad and my grandmother took the secret of who this man was to her grave. I wonder about this side of my family all the time. I have quite a bit of genealogy done for our family, my husbands side is pretty comprehensive, on my side thanks to my mother i have a little history on her family. I always wonder about these people and their life's.

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  5. I've loved working on my ancestry Mary...at times it brought me to my knees as I discovered photo's and sketching of 4th and 5th generational pictures on Ancestry.com

    I'm still searching for a photo of my mother's paternal grandmother...she looked exactly like my mom and my daughter resembles both of them so much.

    You are so right...human legacies do reach out to us over the hands of time.

    Hope you find those nice warm clothes Girl!
    Love You! :)
    xoxoxo

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