My recent travels have led to the Pacific Northwest for a visit with my daughter and son-in-law. Our first grandchild is on his way with an estimated time of arrival being early December. This little guy will have his fair share of travels too as he will be born into a military family. A move is already proposed to the east coast shortly after his birth.
Last evening was the season finale for “Who Do You Think You Are?” on the Learning Channel. I will watch it once I return to my home state. It really is a wonderful representation of genealogy at its best. The family ancestry of a well-known celebrity is researched and as that individual is presented with historical documentation, the delight in discovery is evident. A connection has been established between those living in the present with their ancestors from the past. Family ties take on a broader dimension. It is heartwarming to witness the revelation and the more often than not emotional response.
I was rather touched by Christina Applegate’s story; I could relate to the relationship she presently enjoys with her father. Not every family ancestral story has a happy outcome. Christina’s “Ah ha” moment, however, was near perfection. She found the good and encouraged her father with that. I won’t spoil it for you; hopefully you can find a link on TLC’s website to watch her story.
The episode that featured Cindy Crawford’s ancestral search will likewise be a favorite for reasons of a more personal nature. At one point in her televised search, Cindy traveled to the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. I have been there twice when I attended Parts 1 & 2 of the Society’s “Writing and Publishing Seminar.”
I sat at the very same table, in the very same magnificent room as Ms. Crawford. My conversation at the time was with Penny Stratton, publishing director for the Society. I was seeking direction for my “Fayette Paine” writing project (which, I must confess, had evolved into a multi-faceted conglomeration of history, Paine family genealogy and personal memoir). Penny’s sound advice has guided my writing efforts – “The Search for Fayette” has transformed into a personal memoir.
The interaction I had that morning with Penny led to an unimaginable opportunity to work with Lynn Betlock, editor of the NEHGS’s American Ancestor’s Magazine. I was asked to write an article which would share the story of our Fayette journey in 3000 words. Which was later cut to 2000. Talk about synopsis! The task was challenging and was definitely a great learning experience. Lynn has the patience of a Saint.
The finished article was published in the Summer edition of American Ancestors which, by the way, was the first issue printed in full color. The timing for that opportunity could not have been better; color was the best format to showcase the beautiful envelope that once held Fayette’s first letter to Sarah.
About a year after my mom died, I began to research my own family ancestry. I obtained the contact information for one of my mother’s older cousins who still lived in Iowa. It was difficult conversing about my mom with a distant relative I had never met; the stirring of memories made me quite emotional.
I learned from that cousin that my great grandparents were good people. She told of their kind nature and how much fun she had when she spent time with them. It was my own “Who Do You Think You Are?” ancestral encounter.
One day there may be a great grandchild in my family tree. How will I be remembered by future generations? Will my children and grandchildren speak as kindly of me as that distant cousin did of my great grandparents? That is a very sobering consideration.
And so I will continue with my writing project, a memoir, with the hope of leaving behind something good, and kind, and fun for the generations of my family tree yet to come.
All photographs and blog entry copy copyright 2013 Linda S. Sanders