Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fall in love with your ancestors

Through the years I have found that I am related to some really awesome people in history. Most of them have never been written about in history books. I have had to methodically search out records that gave me a glimpse into their lives. I have fallen in love with each one of my ancestral extended family members as I have learned about the struggles, joys, disappointments, successes, losses and blessings in their daily lives.

I read the records where a baby is born and dies the same day. I want to reach through time and hold and comfort this young distant grandmother of mine for I know she couldn’t take the time to grieve for her loss because others counted on her just to survive.

I want to sit with the distant aunt who lost two of her sisters by hanging in the Salem witchcraft frenzy and listen to how she survived the ordeal. I want to weep with her and then dry her tears.

I want to feel the marks indelibly sketched into the body of a distant grandfather who was captured by Indians and made to carry a heavy copper kettle around his neck and over his shoulders as he was led half way across North America before he finally was freed.

I want to bind the wounds of a distant uncle who was wounded in battle fighting for the birth of this great nation, the United States of America, where I have freedoms most of the world cannot even imagine.

I want to listen to and understand the magical Norwegian language as my distant grandfather tells me of the loss of his childhood sweetheart soon after they emigrated to ‘Amerika’ leaving him to care for two young boys…how he moved on and found a second sweetheart from the old country and added two more sons to the family. I want to embrace this great Viking of mine.

Family history is much more than gathering names, dates of events and places where those events occurred. It is becoming intimately acquainted with them, loving them and being grateful for who they were and how they lived. Getting to know your ancestors will transform you.

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