Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Friday, August 12, 2016

a curiousity

 As anyone that reads these postings of mine knows, I'm into genealogy. I have spent countless hours researching my ancestors and discovering facts about them. Every once in a while I do stumble upon something personal to them, a letter or a card, that sheds some light into the darkness of the past. Those are always the most exciting thing. Just a few days ago I made contact with a gentleman whose grandfather flew with my father during the war. He has shared some photos with me. The most exciting thing he has shared is the flight log that his grandfather kept. This log details the missions they flew. My own dad seldom spoke of the war, or his missions. Now I have been given a window into that world. Providence has smiled down upon me and I'm sure Dad is too. I will dissect that log book to learn as much as possible. I feel a strange obligation to do so.
 I do have many pictures on my walls. I believe in displaying all the ancestors. I find it somehow comforting to know they are looking at me. I have come to know their names and can explain the relationships one to another. I have a picture of my 3rd great grandfather on a tintype standing beside his brother. I have a picture of my Swedish ancestors, taken in Sweden. I have brothers and a sister. I have aunts and uncles. I have nieces and nephews and their children. Something we seldom consider is when we become grand uncles and grand aunts. All of these are on my walls and in my heart. As I looked at them this morning it occurred to me, there are many I have never met. You say, that's not unusual, after all they are ancestors. True, but I wasn't thinking about ancestors, I'm thinking about the nieces and nephews and their children. I have their photographs but have never met them personally. Well, some I have, but years ago and I'm sure they don't remember much. Do children pay attention to old people ? Not so much I think unless you are really old, then you become a curiosity. At least for me it worked that way. Ancestors are curiosities aren't they ? I hadn't considered that before. Now I'm thinking I may wind up a curiosity unless I take some action. I guess these blogs may serve that purpose should they be discovered by those interested in learning about me. I'm still here and still kicking !
 In making discoveries about my own ancestors I have learned some basic facts. The census provides a wealth of knowledge, sometimes newspaper clippings and other publications. For the majority of them I can provide a brief synopsis of their lives. They say very little about the person though. How can we know ? I have great, great grandmothers Bible. Judging by the dog eared pages and notes in the margins she studied that book. My 3rd great grandfather was a whaler. Made three trips around the horn was his big claim. But do those things define those folks ? Surely there was much more to them. Great, great Grandfather James was a civil war veteran. Just what was his politics ? Why did he go to war ? Was he drafted into service, or volunteer for the cause ? So many questions without answers.
 I am fortunate that we have this social media. I can contact those folks wherever they are in the world. It is a quick and easy thing to do, much better than the past. We can learn about each other and share. The whole thing is a matter of interest. If they are interested in knowing you. I don't want to become a curiosity. Do we make connections based solely on interest ? Yes, I think we do. The relationship is based upon sustaining that interest. But what can I offer of interest to these children ? I'm just an old guy that knows their Mom and Dad. With the grand nieces and nephews that isn't even the case. I'm just the brother to their grandmother ! For small children and young adults there isn't much of interest here. They are interested in the physical interactions, not a cerebral one. I get that. What I mean is, if I lived close by and could bring them gifts and play games with them, they would be interested. That is human nature.
 I don't know, maybe all these pictures on the wall get me thinking too much. I don't want to end up as an old photograph. I don't want someone staring at me and saying, who is that ? I want them to say, that man is Ben. Let me tell you all about Ben, he was an interesting character. Yes, I want to be remembered in that way. I think we all do. I do not wish to define my own character, that should form all on its' own, but I'll try to influence it. Shakespeare was right when he said, each of us must play our part. We really are characters on the stage. I'm not interested in playing the lead but I'm not an extra either ! I do think we should be introduced to as many cast members as possible. Even if we have to make the introduction. If we want to be remembered we do need to do something memorable. I'll have to think about that for a while.