… Grows a forest. Recently my daughter has expressed a desire to peer into the family history, and in doing so fired up a renewed interest of my own. Others in my family have already been tracing the family tree, and uncovered more than I could have imagined.
So far, the research relates to my father’s side of the family. The line can be traced back hundreds of years, especially on my Nan’s side of the family. There’s an unbelievable number of links, connections and branches that I’ve discovered, and that’s just following back the lineage of one person.
To give you an idea, I think I’ve traced back the line all the back to 1733. It’s fascinating to peer into one’s own past, and I have barely scratched the surface. I have names and dates, but who were my ancestors? What did they believe in? What ambitions did they harbour (indeed, given the times they lived in, would they have harboured anything beyond survival)?
I already know of some tragic incidents – as was sadly typical of the era, children would be born and die very young, in some cases not even making it to their first birthday. It places things into perspective. The world I am living in now might offer up frustrations and annoyances, and for some life is unquestionably hard (and all things are relative), but back then, especially if you weren’t wealthy, there were no guarantees that the child you cradled in your arms as a new-born would live for even a few months. If you lived to be sixty you were considered ancient. Disease and poverty would have ravaged entire towns and villages. In some respects that makes me a miracle of fate – pull apart one thread and the family tree gets reshaped completely.
As I said to my daughter, that history, good or bad, those names and faces, all of their experiences, dreams and fears, gets distilled right down into us. That history is all a part of us. It’s a strange, emotional feeling to gaze back and see the ocean become a drop. I can’t wait to see what else can be discovered!