Thursday, January 16, 2014

Turning Hearts: My Story is Similar

In the January 15th issue of the Logan FamilySearch Library newsletter, an article is posted that was written by Carol Petranek, Director of the Washington, DC Family History Center, for an issue of Meridian Magazine. The article spoke to me because I encountered the same kind of thinking as I was growing up. My step-mother (my dad's second wife) had very hostile feelings toward my mother (my dad's first wife) and worked hard to convey the message to my brother and me that anyone with my mother's (maiden) name was "worthless, trash, low class etc". As I began to research my family history, I recognized that my mother's maiden name was just that..... a name. It did not carry negative connotations to anyone but my step-mother. In fact, as the years have gone by and my research has expanded, I've found that all the "famous" or "Noteworthy" people that I'm related to are through that line of my maternal grandfather's family. This is the message conveyed in the following article.   --Becky Jamison

Turning Hearts: One of a Thousand

I was delighted when a friend asked me for suggestions in researching his family. He was excited with the connections he was making on his mother's line and was eager to meet many newly discovered cousins at an upcoming family reunion. He was animated as he shared his latest findings: documents, photos, and online family trees uploaded by people he did not previously know. His enthusiasm was palpable!
At one point, my friend revealed that his father, kindly described as a scoundrel, had left his mother and abandoned him as a very young child. Although his mother remarried and he was raised in a loving home, he had grown up separated from his paternal family. For 60 years, this had not been a matter of concern to him.
Until now.
Something strange was beginning to happen, he related. There were stirrings within that he couldn't squelch. After a lifetime of estrangement, he felt prompted to begin researching his biological father's family. This was causing him deep anxiety. He grew up with deep animosity towards his father. Digging into this family also meant digging into his father's life and facing complex emotional issues. How could he consider this research, he asked?
"Your father is just one person in this family," I heard myself say. "There are hundreds, thousands, of people to whom you are related through him. You are their descendant. Their blood flows in your veins. They love you. Don't let one person stand in the way of finding the other half of your family."
He stared into my eyes and I could see the tension in his face dissolve. It was a profound moment. "You're right," he said. And his new search commenced right there. He set up an online tree and was amazed to find how easy it was to connect with cousins and other family members that had been totally unknown to him. They accepted him with love and a sincere appreciation at knowing what happened "to that side of the family." He was invited to a family reunion where, for the first time, he met extended family from his paternal line. As his circle expanded, so did his joy.
My friend's experience is not an uncommon one. Family life is complicated and oftentimes messy. Imperfect people do imperfect things and make imperfect decisions. Relationships become estranged and animosity dissolves the family circle, changing it from an "o" to a "u." The gap often remains for years, and even generations.
Facing such a situation squarely takes strength, determination and a long-term perspective. Going back 10 generations, an individual is directly descended from 1,203 people. That is direct descendants and does not include aunts, uncles, and numberless cousins.
This nine-generation fan chart presents a powerful image of the myriad of ancestors standing behind one individual. We now have a visual perspective of how limiting it can be to allow human emotions to block our research into one of our family lines. 
It takes courage to choose this path, but we can "jump over" the individual who caused pain in our family, learning just enough about his/her life to identify the parents and ancestors. In this genealogical journey, we may connect with "new" living relatives who will envelop us with appreciation and love. It is my sincere hope that any who embark on such research will be filled with peace and joy--the fruits of righteous desires.
Source: "Turning Hearts: One of a Thousand", by Carol Kostakos Petranek, Meridian Magazine, Friday, May 17, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you do not have a Google account, you can comment as Anonymous, but please add your name to your comment. Thank you.