Saw my favorite Staples commercial, the one where the father is zooming through the store on the back of a buggy singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” while his kids look forlorn. The buggy is full of school supplies.
Today we had to sign up for cheerleading and I got an email for #2s band fees. Yup, it’s almost time to go back to school. I don’t really mind. Seems I do a lot more research during the school year. I always tell myself I am going to research during the summer, but I never do. I feel guilty ignoring the kids that way. Seems I shouldn’t be looking for dead people while they are playing the Wii. I know, it’s crazy. LOL
But when they start doing research papers, and algebra, I feel okay spending my time looking at microfilm and old census records. It seems fitting somehow that I spend that time looking for their roots while they look for their wings.
I often wonder how our roots affect us. My great great grandfather fought in the Civil War. He deserted (so they say). He said he was captured and taken to a POW camp, where he had surgery on his arm to remove a bullet. I haven’t been able to find any proof that he was taken prisoner, though a doctor at the time stated his arm was shorter than the other one, indicating that he had had part of the bone removed. I read in Parade Magazine last week about brain injuries sustained by soldiers. I wondered did CW vets sustain any brain injuries due to their battles? This man married and had 6 children, one of which was my great grandmother. She was said to have been quick tempered and abusive toward her children. Did she learn this behavior from her father? Was it because of injuries he sustained in the war, or was he always abusive? Was he even tempered and she learned the behavior from her mother? Did my CW ancestor sustain more than just an injury to his arm in the CW? Did the bombs and bullets flying around him affect his personality as well? Did that personality change then affect his future children? His future grandchildren? Even his future great grandchildren? Scary when you think about it. Here was a man who was just doing what he thought was best. An only child. He got injured, yet could never prove his injury enough to his country to ever earn a pension, and his family suffered in untold ways for generations. Or maybe the daughter was just mean. It happens. These are the kinds of things you can’t find out about your ancestors on papers like the census or deeds or wills. You won’t find that an ancestor fought with depression or anxiety, or post traumatic stress or was an alcoholic. (A good indication that maybe he or she did suffer from one of the others.) While you may be able find where an ancestor lived, owned land, married, died, or is buried, you’ll never be able to find out what made him or her tick. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe knowing an ancestor was just, as my dad would say “mean as hell” isn’t the thing to know about a person. Maybe it’s best to think of all our ancestors in the glowing terms that we tend to think of them in. They all got married at age 20.5. Ten months later, they had their first baby, a boy, of course. Two years later, a girl, followed by another two years later. They lived together in wedded bliss buying and selling property and leaving deeds for the next fifty years before dying and being buried side by side in the church cemetery where he was deacon, she was pianist and neither ever caused a controversy their entire lives. He died one year before she died fully testate. Their oldest was the executor and she died a year later, leaving the estate to be divided equally amongst their five children and 8 grandchildren.
Ah, if only genealogy was so simply and dry cut.