Friday, March 10, 2017

Family Trees - Roots and Results

Family trees. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to get into them. Focusing on four people's experiences--my grandparents' experiences--seemed like enough for one tour without giving much thought to all their siblings and cousins. But, my dad's parents have already passed on, so I have to hear their stories in other ways. And since my aunt so kindly sent over their family trees, why not start there and get a sense of their connections and rough outlines of their lives?

I wasn't entirely sure what insights I would gain from looking at their trees--I certainly wasn't expecting it to be an emotional experience--but as I looked at all the names (and sometimes pictures!) and all the connections, I was overwhelmed with the sense that I have no idea who my family is. All of these people, descended from the same two people, producing all of these other people, and I could recognize maybe twenty of them. I guess that's what happens when people have lots of children...

 And then, there was the feeling of awe seeing the dates that my grandparents were born, and the dates that their parents were born, and the dates that their parents were born. And the locations! I never knew that one of my great grandfathers was born in Hiroshima, or that my great great grandmother died while imprisoned at Amache, or that my family has history in Hollister and Santa Rosa. I'll have to figure out how to add these places to my tour!

I never knew how much my grandma looked like her mother, or that my brother inherited my great great grandfather's cheekbones. It was like discovering parts of me that had been covered in thick layers of dust, or buried in the ground long ago. I could almost feel the ancient past running through my veins. I wondered who else I was connected to. I wondered how far back I could trace, who were these people whose blood I shared? What were they like? Were they musical? What view did they see when they walked out their front door?

And then there was a sense of deep sorrow and a longing to hug my grandparents again, tell them that I love them and ask them for their stories in person.

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