Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why Am I Interested In Genealogy?

Yesterday I was challenged as to why I am interested in Genealogy.  After all, don't I have enough to do knowing the people alive and around me?  Yes, that's probably true.  Am I living in the past?  I don't think so.

History interests many people as they study those who have gone on before us.  When I was in school I was told that we study history so that we don't repeat it.  True.  History is chalked full of mistakes and if we heed those mistakes and learn from them hopefully we won't make those same mistakes again.  As I have studied history, I've not found that we, as a people, pay much attention to that and go happily along repeating those same mistakes just like the defiant child who screams, "I want to do it myself."

As a human being that has made many mistakes and continues to make them I have to say, wow, wish I would have done that better.  This month our Pastor has been teaching out of Nehemiah.  What?  How boring!  Not so!  Nehemiah has to face some personal obstacles that many of us face on a day to day basis and I've been reliving last weeks sermon all week in relationships in my life.  Sometimes I remember to respond like Nehemiah and other times I don't remember how I should have responded until the incident is over and done.  Yikes!

I've been through some good times and some hard times.  Many times like the picture above we forget that folks are going through things.  There are good times, but it seems that some of us get dealt hard times more than most.  Maybe it just feels that way, others might say they brought it on themselves.  That's how rifts begin in families.

Many times the stories don't jive.  How could she behave that way?  Often folks are misunderstood or more often people perceive a fact, that just isn't true, then pass it on and a story, quite possibly a negative story, has been created.

I have parented many children.  I have a stepdaughter, I have biological children, I have fostered children, I have adopted children.  Mike and I both come from families with huge spances of time between the births of our grandparents and their siblings, sometimes a decade or more.  The parent or grandparent each child sees can be a different person.  Magnify that with their grandchildren and the gap widens and one grandchild sees their grandparents as this and so and years later there comes along another child whose family doesn't tell about a hard thing in the family and this child sees that grandparent in a totally different light. 

Perhaps this grandparent did some things wrong, handled some things badly.  We don't know what they were going through.  I've never been an immigrant.  I don't know what it was like.  I've not been through the depression or any number of other things.  I also want to try to bypass wounds that my parents may have passed on to me.  Maybe they had a rough relationship with their parents for a time and my perception of them is colored by those feelings.  I learned that from my maternal Grandmother who tried to know me, but my parents didn't want to visit them because of hard feelings or perceptions.  Thus I thought my grandparents didn't like me.  I learned later that this couldn't be further from the truth, but this colored my relation with someone I wish I would have known.  Maybe I'm an optimist and am looking for to much good.  I'm happy to be in that blissful state.

One thing I HAVE learned from raising so many children AND from raising other peoples children.  When I first began I was on a crusade to save the children of the world, one child at a time.  WOW was I in for a surprise.  On the other end I have a totally different outlook on the whole thing.  It comes down to the heredity vs atmosphere debate.  When I went in I thought atmosphere was everything and Mike and I could create a loving atmosphere and these children would turn out okay.  We did the best we could with what we had and what life dealt with us.  I've now watched these children and my stepdaughter, that I had nothing to do with raising, and see a different story.  My thesis now is; Behavior is inherited but can be shaped by atmosphere.

As I go through my Genealogical studies, while I love the hunt and the solving of mysteries, I am most interested in the stories.  What did they do, how did they react?  I want to know about them and what joys and hardships shaped their lives.  I want to forgive them for their mistakes and rejoice in their victories.  I want to accept them for who they were and honor them as my ancestors.  I want to learn who they were so I can learn more about who I am.  Until I can do that, how can I feel good about myself? The very core of my being is wound up in that DNA.  Let's celebrate it!

Copyright 2015 Jean Gesch Slocum aka Grandma Farmer

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