Heritage wall

blogIMG_9851 (3)My heritage runs deep here – this place outside of a small town in this particular state.

This place where both my parents were born and their parents and their parents…and so on…and so on.

This place where I can travel down the road about four miles or so and visit not only my parents’ grave site, but also those of some of my ancestors. 

We can trace my ancestry back to the 1600’s and 1700’s when my predecessors arrived in the “New World” and eventually settled here. I’m not an avid genealogist like some folks are, but I do enjoy knowing where and from whom I came. 

My father was the keeper of that sort of information and long before he passed away, he fashioned a notebook for each of his three daughters containing family history. Included were copies of old photos and a family tree for both sides of his and my mother’s families with birth and death dates.

What’s missing though are the family stories of those who came before me. Those I only know by name and vital statistics. Those who were my great-grandparents and ancestors even further back.  I know when they were born and when they left this earth, but I don’t know much else about them.

What kind of folks were they? What did they do for a living? How important was faith to them? What color were their hair, eyes, etc.? Did they have dreams for their children that were bigger than ones they had for themselves? Did they have any musical or artistic talent? What was their favorite food? Did they vote? And what interesting stories could be told about their lives?

This week’s photo challenge theme is heritage.

And I wish I knew more about mine. If only I had had the forethought to ask my parents more questions about our family heritage before they passed away, although what they knew was probably a little sparse since their grandparents were deceased when they were young.

Just like mine. All of my grandparents were gone by the time I passed my 10th birthday.

What was my grandma’s favorite color? I don’t know.  All I do know is a relatively small cache of memories I have of my mother’s parents since my grandfather died the same year as grandma. But I remember Grandma when I pull out her handmade quilt that still emits an aroma that reminds me of her and sometimes causes me to shed a few tears. 

My paternal grandmother died when I was an infant, so all I have are photos of her, no memories. My paternal grandfather passed when Dad was just a baby, so he had no memories of him either, just a couple of photos.

What exactly did grandpa do with his carpentry skills? I don’t know. But I do know his wooden tool box now gathers dust in my basement and I’ve contemplated what I should do with it.

Heritage is important to preserve, especially for our children and grandchildren. Perhaps one day, our grandchildren will reminisce and wonder more about their Nana and Papa.

Perhaps not.

But I still want to leave a heritage for them anyway. Not just one of the items we owned or one with special significance, but our life stories as well or the tale that accompanies a particular item that has been passed down from one generation to the next.   

blogIMG_9848 (2)

My children’s grandparents as newlyweds

Several years ago, Papa and I moved our family of five back here to the homeland when my mother was dying of cancer. Prior to our move and as a farewell gift, a sweet friend presented a book, entitled “A Grandparent’s Book,” to me. 

Questions written as if a grandchild were asking them fill the book with spaces for handwritten answers. I’m grateful now that I took the time to ask both my mother and father to complete it before they passed away, although I realized later that Dad didn’t finish it all.

Reading through it provides a little insight into my parents’ lives from young children through adulthood, but it still lacks the sweetness and poignancy of those family stories.

I too completed the blanks in a spiral bound book for my children called “A Parent’s Book,” but again, it lacks the in-depth picture you gain from listening to someone’s history in person, told in their own voice, from their own memories. 

I once read somewhere that when we die we become stories in the minds of other people, but what happens when those stories aren’t passed down?

Our heritages are lost when they aren’t recorded or at least written down. In some cases I suppose even the written accounts are lost when descendants find them unimportant and toss them in the trash bin.

So I think it’s vital to share the value of family history with our children and grandchildren.

Because someday, when they are mature in years and their forbears are long gone, they may wonder, “Did Nana ever write a blog and what on earth did she ever write about?”

 “How will our children know who they are if they do not know where they came from?” ~ Unknown

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Advertisements

17 responses

  1. I got interested in my own genealogy after my mother died and I ‘inherited’ the photo albums she’d assembled several years earlier (one of her family; one of my Dad’s). Like you, I wish I’d asked a LOT more questions before they died. I spent a couple of months on ancestry.ca (and ancestry.com, through the local Library) and have filled in a lot of ‘blanks’ in the family tree, but (again, like you) I want to know their stories. I am going to take the photo albums Mom created apart and reassemble them in chronological order, and add a ‘narrative’ story to some of the pictures (as opposed to just labels with dates and names). I’m also going to create a similar album for my own story to pass along to my children (and their children). I’ve come to realize that we don’t really know/ understand / care about our parents’ histories until its too late because we don’t ‘get’ that they were PEOPLE before they were PARENTS. I’ve encouraged both my daughters-in-law to talk to their parents and grandparents NOW (I got them each a ‘kit’ last Christmas with pages for each person to fill in – either by themselves or through interviews with them) so that their histories aren’t lost. Its unfortunate that so many of us don’t realize how important our family background is until its too late to uncover and record the details. I love your family tree; I’m going to see if I can get something like that make up from the one I’ve been able to put together from my research.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We also have tons of photos from both my husband’s parents and mine. Mine were in albums, but my in-laws in boxes. Before my mil passed, we did ask her to write names on the photos and dates if she could remember. It took me several hours to put them in an album in chronological order. Alas, I don’t have any stories or history to go with them. My Dad, who also was the family photographer (always the one with a camera) was very good about dating and identifying photos. I love our family tree too — it hangs in our living room. We bought it as newlyweds on our honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia, so it’s 40 years old. Hope you can find one too!

      Like

  2. I love this! I can relate so much. I did take the time after my brother died to start quizzing my mother about as much as she could remember, which was still quite a bit. I also built a pretty nice tree at Ancestry that I still work on from time to time. I’m so glad you know your history so far back. One thing that seems to be a common tale in our part of the country is the lack of definitive records from people that settled in the Indian lands and out west. Both of our families made the trek out here to slightly different areas in Texas, so trying to trace back gets really hard because of those long moves. It is interesting that my own ancestors all settled near Post, as they came to C. W. Post’s “utopian” lands or nearby areas. That’s interesting to read about online, too. My mother’s four year-old sister is buried in an unmarked grave in Post, which I need to fix soon and put a marker there. Over the years, most of us have stayed pretty close by, as Post is only 30 minutes from us. At least I now know where nearly all of my grandparents and great-grandparents are buried. Gosh, I do love this stuff, except for these darn roadblocks that are so frustrating.

    Like

    • So wonderful that you do have some of those family histories. There are still several gaps on my mother’s side of the family. She was an only child born to older parents, so didn’t know her grandparents let alone greats. And all of her cousins were considerably older than her and are also long gone. I haven’t checked ancestry.com but I imagine I could find some information there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: David Falor

  4. Pingback: Heritage: Architecture Markthal Rotterdam | What's (in) the picture?

  5. I love this post! You’re so right- I often wonder about my great-grandmother, and our family history. She wasn’t one for sharing, sadly. If I’m ever blessed to become a parent, I’m going to make sure to take loads of pictures and videos and journal so my children and grandkids will be able to know about our lives!

    Like

  6. I agree! Never knowing my mother or anyone past my father left a hole in me. I’ve worked on learning about who my family was and where they came from. But so often the stories are missing. You can find facts, but the stories are lost. And I think stories are SO important. Great job keeping history alive in your family!

    Like

So...what do you think? Tell me. I appreciate your feedback and read each comment. Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s