Week Fourteen – Connect With My Roots

My Grandfather and Great-Grandmother… I guess you could call that a “family tree” he’s sitting on.

Lately, I’ve had Michael W. Smith’s sandpapery voice echoing in my mind… You know the song. Come on. Admit that you know it. I’m looking for a reason… Roaming through the night to find my place in this world…. my plaaaaaace in this world….. (For those of you who missed the early nineties, here’s the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpXMnY_t03M)

All I can say is, Preach on, Brother Michael. Preach on. For some reason, lately I’ve found it hard to find solid footing… In so many areas of my life, I’ve felt out of place, different, the odd-man-out, whatever you want to call it. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever feel this way, but I don’t like that feeling of disconnection.  So I decided in order to get grounded, I’d try to find out more about my roots.

Before I relate that experience, I have a confession to make. Family history has not been my idea of a fun time. In fact, it has been my idea of a tedious time. I even took a class on it in college, hoping that it would ignite the spark in me that I feel is my duty to have. But alas. Even family-history-turned-pop-culture, like the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” hasn’t interested me that much.

My family, on the other hand, have been amazing with it. Before I was born, my parents published and sold a board game through Bookcraft publishers called Family Tree that encouraged people to do their own research. My mom complied and abridged journals and all sorts of records, including pictures and pedigree charts for both sides of our family for generations. My cousin, Mary Lee, started a blog dedicated to our family history and has so much information.

Another photo from Mary Lee’s blog… I think my dad is the baby in this picture 

With this objective of finding “my place in this world”, I chose this week to dig into the resources I’m so spoiled to have at my fingertips. I had remembered years ago when Mary Lee had told me about how we have royalty in our lines and ancestors that were on the Mayflower. I think for several days afterward, that I tried to walk around regally.  For some reason, knowing that I came from awesomeness made me feel a little awesome myself.

I didn’t have ambitious goals this week. I wasn’t trying to find some long-lost relative in an obscure and dusty pile of census records. Mostly, I was just trying to get to know my predecessors and figure out a little bit of what has gone into making me.

I read lots of stories, both on my maternal and paternal grandparents’ sides. I looked over pictures and saw kaleidoscopic pieces of me in generations of faces. The autobiographies were my favorites… It was nice to read something that revealed the personalities of my ancestors, including their insecurities and things that made them more human to me. There were a few skeletons in the closet, like every family has, and things that made me a little mad, though I tried not to judge. It was fun to read about ancestors that shared my interests and talents in life. I read about miraculous events and work ethics that inspired me. Mostly, I just felt a lot of respect and gratitude towards the people I read about.

Mom’s family tree

A funny thing happened that I didn’t expect. I felt the desire to start writing my own personal history. I haven’t made a lot of progress yet, but I did start brainstorming childhood memories that I hadn’t thought about in years. Thinking about the investment my parents made in our family and all of those happy memories also brought a lot of gratitude into my heart.

I think I’m still “roaming through the night to find my place in this world”, on a practical level. But for some reason, knowing where I’ve come from helps me feel a little more confident in my steps. And it holds up the light of some pretty impressive examples to show me what I’m capable of.

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2 thoughts on “Week Fourteen – Connect With My Roots

  1. Sarah says:

    I know what you mean about feeling disconnected at times. One time when I felt that way, I was talking to my brother about it. He described it perfectly. He said “What you’re feeling is that you’re on the Island of Misfit Toys, but you’re not a misfit, so you don’t know why you’re there.”

    As for family history, I need to do better with it. My mom and I did great with it a few years back and then things just got busy. We interviewed her father because there were a lot of things on her side of the family that she didn’t know about. It was fun to hear it first-hand from him.

    Through doing family history, we discovered that some of our ancestors rode with Billy the Kid and broke him out of jail a few times.

    I also found a picture of a great-grandmother I never knew in my lifetime. The picture was from the 1920’s and she was a flapper, through and through! It was really fun to see.

    We checked the new family history program on the church website and discovered that about 1,000 years ago, all of our ancestors were Irish and Scottish royalty! Just think of it…during the dark ages, my family was royalty! And now, in the pinnacle of history…I’m a peasant! (at least monetarily). 🙂

    One of my grandmothers died when I was three, but she wrote a journal and published it for her children a little after my parents were married. I feel such a kinship with her as I read that book and I can’t wait to meet her again someday. Your family will feel that way someday as they read your personal history too. I think that is a wonderful goal to work on.

    Sorry this is so long!

  2. Mary Lee says:

    Just discovered your post on your family roots! I should have known you wouldn’t waste any time following up on your idea and I should have kept a closer eye on your blog. Sounds like you had a great week pondering the lives of those who preceded and who now are likely very aware of you (especially as you have felt a greater connection to them) and perhaps even praying for your success and happiness. I’m looking forward to hearing about some of the stories you discovered.
    Much love, dear cousin.
    P.S. Loved the analogy of the Island of Misfit Toys. Been there. But thankfully the truth is there really are no misfit toys.

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