A variation on an old theme: there are always more beginners than enders in just about any enterprise worth pursuing. That’s on my mind this morning because of the challenge of writing the family history to the bitter end (at least the first edition) and the more recent challenge of getting back to this blog to chronicle the book’s progress.
Silly me. I thought people would be happy to have someone record the births, deaths, major events, stories, offspring, personality traits, and quirks of their ancestors. Some were and some weren’t. I persevered, realizing the need to be as accurate and unbiased and fair as possible. I followed the adage to do the least harm and included information that might be helpful to future generations without tarnishing the character or reputation of ancestors.
Below are some paragraphs from the first chapter that illustrate my feelings about pressing forward.
Although I didn’t really need further incentive to write a family history, it came. One day as I contemplated Ruth and Boaz and their place in the lineage of Jesus Christ, it occurred to me how important the compilers/translators of the Bible must have considered this to be. Not to mention Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Then there’s King David, Tamar, and Jesse.
We don’t need all the begats in the Old Testament to tell us the importance of genealogy, and yet it’s nice to have that confirmation. Recently I attempted reading the third chapter of Luke in the New Testament and got bogged down around verse 35. The first chapter of Matthew is enlightening, too.
The Bible is made even more fascinating because of story. Nearly half of the Old and New Testaments are narrative, the rest being discourse and poetry. Stories are powerful. Whether it’s Daniel and the lion’s den, Hannah and her promise to Eli, or Mary giving birth to the only begotten Son of God in a stable, stories convey messages in a way no other medium can. While the stories of my/our family might not be as important or far-reaching as those of the Bible, they’re our stories and thus have meaning and significance.
Incidents and experiences involving all four offspring are included in the primary narrative. I’ve recorded my memories as accurately as possible from my perspective. Psychologists are clear about the inaccuracies of memory, especially episodic memory or personal memory. Although we may insist that this is what happened, experts say otherwise and insist that our personal memories are part fact and part fiction.
A perfect example of this concept rests in this black and white photo taken of Mike and me at the kitchen table in the house on Haile Street. He thinks I’m smiling because I sneaked a piece of “his” candy while his head was turned. I think the smile is one of delighted anticipation of tasting that sweet chocolate kiss.
We bring our temperament, mood, experience, and perception into each moment, and we process and interpret them accordingly. When we retrieve them from our memory banks, past events are colored not only by our consciousness, mood, age, and mood but also by our state of mind at the time of recollection.
About that kiss photo and how people’s interpretations differ, I was the older sister, my brother’s playmate and fierce protector. Why would I take his candy?
What are some of your family memories, and what’s stopping you from sharing them?