Wednesday, February 17, 2010


For the last month of so I have felt like a whirling dervish as I attempt to make connections with living and dead who have crossed my path at some point.  I wonder what that’s all about?

I have long been interested in genealogy, attempting to trace multiple family lines back as far as they will carry me.  I know about ancestors who lived in the remotest parts of Norway in 1200 and how they came forward to my generation.  I’m troubled when I hit a roadblock and am constantly searching for a way around it.

I’ve lately begun serious work on my mother’s family since I pretty much figured out all I’ll ever know about my father’s Norwegian family.  Recently I’ve talked/e-mailed at length with Helen (90), Bob (83), and many others who are somehow distantly related.  One of my Edgar relatives (42) is determined to prove that our family descended from Edgar, King of Scotland.  And maybe we did.  I hope he figures it out.

I’m working hard to convince my son Dan to be interested in his family roots.  I hauled him down to the basement when he was last over to show him old and older photos of his ancestors.

It almost seems like I have the fervor of the Mormons who are trying to trace everyone back and convert them after the fact.  For me, of course, it has nothing to do with religion.  In fact, most of my ancestors would probably turn over in their graves if they knew I had converted to Judaism.  There’s just something about knowing who came before me, where they lived, and even some anecdotes about their lives that would tell me what kind of people these were.

I also find myself reaching out to people I haven’t seen for decades -- people who were once important in my life, people who perhaps influenced the way I view the world. 

I keep hoping this sudden surge to connect isn’t a sign that I’m on the way out, but rather that I simply want to re-establish communication with people I was too busy to seek out for these past decades. 

I feel energized by all this digging and reminiscing.  I’m happy to remember common friends I shared with people, to try to remember the sound of their voices, to only imagine how they must look today having dealt with the aging process just as I have.  I love the feeling of anticipation of a new exchange, a new branch of the family tree completed, a chance perhaps to meet up in person with an old friend who has resurfaced.


Anonymous lr said...

All your research is valuable. As you weaving together family and friends, you strengthen the fabric and illumine the richness of your life. Enjoy this passion!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous lr said...

Oops - editing error in the second sentence - As you weave...

4:19 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Finding roots is soooooo groovy. I love it when I find a piece of paper that my ancestors have touched or signed. Finding their entries on a census or land deed really touches my heart. I also believe in cellular memory, so these people are a very real part of my today self.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Are you watching the PBS series called "Faces of America"? They are tracing family histories of several famous people and talking to them about what they know about their families. It is surprisingly moving to see their reactions to what the researchers have found. Christie Yamaguchi choked up and cried when she learned about her grandfather who nobly fought for the US in WWII while most of his family was being held in US internment camps. I think of my granddaughter's lineage which goes back to the Incas on one side of her family and to Oregon Trail pioneers on the other. It is all so fascinating and makes us wonder what traits we share with those who came before us.

5:31 PM  
Blogger red dirt girl said...

connections .... YES ! so nice to see you again, girlfriend.


10:02 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

LR -- It's the connections that make life interesting, don't you think?

Kellyann -- I know exactly what you mean. It's so exciting to have an official record confirm what was otherwise just oral history.

Terry -- How far back will your granddaughter be able to trace her Inca lineage?

RDG -- I'm so glad you are back on the Blog scene. We've missed you!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I think geneology is so interesting, especially when you find out something that is more than just a name. It's really cool to imagine what sort of life your ancestors may have had. My father has gotten so far into researching to the point where he's taken a couple of trips out to Salt Lake City to look things up. I'm not sure what he found there, but it must have been enough to make a follow up trip worthwhile.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- Working on one's family history can become addictive. It's never finished! It's absolutely amazing what the Mormons have done to support this work. It's good they share their great library with even non-believers like many of us. I'm not surprised your dad made those trips. He's obviously hooked!

12:56 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I think every once in a while we get the urge to find our roots. It's a wonderful legacy to leave for your children.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're sharing your info, photos, etc. with Dan now. My mom, who was the unofficial genealogist for her whole side of my family, did the same with me. And darn it if I haven't forgotten almost everything she told me. I suggest you consider writing things down for both of your kids; they may be more likely to enjoy the info in years to come...


2:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Whatever the impetus, genealogy's an interesting pastime and a great thing to share with your son if he's interested. History repeats itself, and it's almost as much about you as them.

As for reaching out to old friends, well, I think it's fascinating. (I've done the same recently and found someone I like even more now than I did then.)

8:18 PM  

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