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Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Family Scribe -- every family has one


My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors . . . to put flesh on their bones and make them live again . . . to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.


To me . . . doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.


We are the story tellers of the tribe . . . all tribes have one . . . we have been called as it were by our genes . . . those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story . . . so, we do . . . and, in finding them, we somehow find ourselves.


How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.


It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do.


It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.


It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today.


It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.


It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them.


So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us.


So, as a scribe called I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.


That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.





Versions of this piece are found quoted on genealogy sites all over the internet. It is most often attributed to Della M. Cummings Wright.

















Friday, November 19, 2010

See You on the Other Side




This is the place. Stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been.


The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time's flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side. . . .


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Go Rest High on That Mountain




I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain


Go rest high on that mountain
Son, you work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and Son


Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing


Go rest high on that mountain
Son, you work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and Son


By Vince Gill




Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday :: Seated on an old grave



I now write these lines seated on an old grave (doubtless of a century since at least) on the burial hill of the Whitmans of many generations. Fifty and more graves are quite plainly traceable and as many more decay’d out of all form - depress’d mounds, crumbled and broken stones, cover’d with moss - the gray and sterile hill, the clumps of chestnuts outside, the silence, just varied by the soughing wind. There is always the deepest eloquence of sermon or poem in any of these ancient graveyards of which Long Island has so many; so what must this one have been to me? My whole family history with its successions of links, from the first settlements down to date, told here - three centuries concentrated on this sterile acre.” -- Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Specimen Days



Until I see you again




I read a note my grandma wrote back in nineteen twenty-three.
Grandpa kept it in his coat, and he showed it once to me. He said,
"Boy, you might not understand, but a long, long time ago,
Grandma's daddy didn't like me none, but I loved your Grandma so."


We had this crazy plan to meet and run away together.
Get married in the first town we came to, and live forever.
But nailed to the tree where we were supposed to meet, instead
Of her, I found this letter, and this is what it said:


If you get there before I do, don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.


I read those words just hours before my Grandma passed away,
In the doorway of a church where me and Grandpa stopped to pray.
I know I'd never seen him cry in all my fifteen years;
But as he said these words to her, his eyes filled up with tears.


If you get there before I do, don't give up on me.
I'll meet you when my chores are through;
I don't know how long I'll be.
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.
Between now and then, till I see you again,
I'll be loving you. Love, me.


Performed by Collin Raye


Written
by
Skip Ewing & Max T. Barnes



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making memories of what was today




Hold tight to the sound of the music of living

Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;

Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,

Making mem'ries of what was today.


Tender words, gentle touch, and a good cup of coffee,

And someone that loves me and wants me to stay;

Hold them near while they're here, and don't wait for tomorrow

To look back and wish for today.


Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest,

The gold and the brown of the freshly-mown hay,

Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,

And weave you a lovely today.


For we have this moment to hold in our hands,

And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday's gone, and tomorrow may never come,

But we have this moment, today.


Lyrics by Gloria Gaither.

Music by William J. Gaither.

© 1975 William J. Gaither.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

If I Had Not Been Born

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more . . . though I know that IS the noblest ambition . . . but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me . . . to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." — L.M. Montgomery

Monday, November 1, 2010

November twilights just begun



As the afternoons grow shorter, and the early evening drives us home to complete our chores, we are reminded of the shortness of life, and become more pensive, at least in the twilight of the year. We are prompted to make haste and finish our work before the night comes. I leaned over a rail in the twilight on the Walden road, waited for the evening mail to be distributed, when such thoughts visited me. I seemed to recognize the November evening as a familiar thing come round again, and yet I could hardly tell whether I had ever known it or only divined it. The November twilight's just begun! . . . Thoreau's Journal . . . 1st November 1858 . . .