I always thought it was interesting the way other cultures remembered their ancestors. It seemed like such a foreign concept to me. I saw it in movies and documentaries. I just dismissed my forebears and thought mine was the only generation that mattered.
Now I see that I am just a link in the chain.
My ancestors were winners. They were successful in passing on their genes to me.
Now I am trying to piece the family together.
I was fortunate to inherit many old photographs, the study of which raised more questions, and each small answer now feels like a victory. It’s a puzzle to understand them from the clues left behind.
By reconstructing my family tree, I see that I am part of something bigger than I realized. Throngs of people contributed to me. I can look into the mirror and see them looking back through the centuries… through my eyes.
I remember the day I stood in a cemetery with my grandmother. She took me from grave to grave saying “This is my mother… this is my grandmother.”
It was peaceful, standing with her in the dappled sunlight. I remember it as a shimmering day, the way I remember all those New England vacation days.
I want to go back there again, to the final resting place of those who came before me. I wasn’t ready to appreciate them yet.
Now I’m much closer to the end of my life. My grandmother and my mother have passed over to join the army of predecessors who are no longer here. I want to know them, and to honor them.