I Am My Ancestors

One of my big regrets in life is not asking enough questions about my parents’ and grandparents’ ancestry when they were still alive. I didn’t care much about the family tree when I was a kid or even as a young adult. Now they’re gone and their stories died with them. Had I known how much it would mean to me now, I would have asked them to tell me more stories about their lives and the lives of their parents and grandparents.

That’s the bummer about genealogy – it’s fairly easy to get the data, the certificates and the facts, but what’s really missing and what means the most are the stories. Who were these people? What were their beliefs? What hardships did they endure? What brought them joy?

My message to young people out there is this – even though it may seem like a drag now, talk to your parents and your grandparents. Ask them lots of questions and write it all down. It may not seem valuable now, but trust me, a day will come when you’ll be glad you did. There’s an old African proverb that goes something like this – “When an old man dies, a library burns.”

Written by Susan 3/20/19


4 thoughts on “I Am My Ancestors”

  1. Just finished reading your entire collection – very nicely done. I particularly enjoyed your column about your mother; stirred some memories. And your column on the POW bracelet was outstanding. Those were confused and confusing times – it was not at all unusual to find GIs on active military duty patriotically serving the needs of the war while simultaneously expressing their political opposition to the misbegotten adventure their country had fallen into, dragging them with it. I have visited three of them – all friends of mine – where they are memorialized forever on the Viet-Nam wall.

  2. Mike, thanks for reading my entire collection of blog posts. Wow! That’s an impressive feat. I’m just hoping I have inspired you to create your own blog because you, my friend, are one heck of a writer and I hate to see all that talent go to waste. Also, thank you for your thoughts about the Vietnam war and the memorial wall. My experience with rediscovering my POW bracelet was an emotional journey for me and one that I will hold close to my heart.

  3. Thanks for the wise insights! Though I have some photographs, a little history, and a few dim anecdotes, I really have lost all of the treasury of personal stories and the storehouse of memories from all of my four grandparents. Because no one took the time to ask and record them!
    Also, since my father died at 70 unexpectedly, and Mom has had a stroke, so much is gone there too. It is sad.

    Perhaps I should tell some of my stories to my kids, even if they don’t want to hear them!!

    Thanks for the important reminder! Eric

    1. Eric, thanks for reading my blog and for your ongoing support. It sounds like you, too, have also lost some of the stories of your ancestors. I’m hoping my blog might inspire you to write down some of your own stories for safekeeping as a gift to your descendants.

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