I've been reminded to seek my roots. An elderly great-aunt called me. She's over ninety and is seeking family to share her stories of those passed on. Though we've never met, we both felt the connection. We're family. It was amazing to hear of a great-grandfather whose wife was a mail-order bride, and the great-uncle who was a bootlegger and was found dead on the prairie from a bullet through his head.

These tales connect me to family, but they are also a key to who I am. I have the opportunity to learn from my progenitor's mistakes and not repeat them. Their struggles become mine. Their losses pull at my heart. Visualizing the great-grandmother who bore thirteen children on the dirt floor of a cabin, and buried two sets of twins in hard prarie sod puts my own difficulties into perspective. There's strength in my bones because I know about her.
And the Scottish ancestor who fought for freedom and was executed, his head set on the Edinburgh bridge as a warning to other rebels, answers the question of where my own fierce love of freedom sprouted from. It's part of who I am.

In two weeks, I leave to visit my parents in California. They aren't well and everyday is a gift. I'll be reminded that I look like my dad's side of the family as my dad regales me with the story of how his father sparred with the famous boxer, Jack Dempsey. And my dad will share the tale of how a cougar cornered him when he was five-years-old in the wilds of Wyoming. Uncovering who we are through family can be uncomfortable. It's not all pretty, but it is worth it. I know that somewhere inside of me lies strength, courage, and tenacity. I may not have tapped those gifts fully, but they're there. I know.
My ancestors prove it.

If you have a chance to attend a family reunion, please take it. Talk to the older relatives and bless yourself with tales of the past.
The stories that shed light on who you are down to your core are worth noting. Write them down. Share them with your children and relatives.
Pull from the best of yourself. The roots are good.


07/01/2012 10:03am

I enjoyed reading this, Sandy. I love hearing other people's stories about their ancestors. The one that will stick with me for a while is the one about your Scottish ancestor.

Enjoy your visit with your parents. :D

07/01/2012 10:35am

Thank you for the read. It's been crazy busy here and I haven't gotten on the loops as I like. Looking into our family history strengthens us and it's a great place to find inspiration for our writing.

Take care, busy girl.

07/01/2012 11:01am

Love this post! I so appreciate the history of the family and hope that my children will one day have the same feeling...guess that's a age thing, uh, wisdom maybe?

Looking forward to meeting you in LA. Enjoy the visit with your folks!

07/01/2012 7:13pm

Thank you, Karen.
I've been into family history since I was a kid, but age does intensify interest. I hope one of my kids picks up the torch.

I can't wait to meet you.
It's going to be a blast!

07/01/2012 11:15am

So true, Sandy. Sometimes when we're young, we don't appreciate the importance of family. Love the story of your reconnecting with yours. Happy visiting!

07/01/2012 7:16pm

I worked on my family tree when I first married and then life got in the way. The older I get, the stronger the pull to connect and know my people.
Thank you for the well wishes. I'm excited for the time with my mom and dad.

07/01/2012 11:43am

Wonderful reminder, Sandy. I definitely need to talk to my relatives and write down stories about ancestors before it's too late. Enjoy your visit with your family and have a safe trip. :-)

07/01/2012 7:19pm

I need to do more writing of my family stories. They are so interesting. I couldn't make this stuff up.
Thank you for the well wishes. My family lives in riverside, California.
I'm bumping the visit next to the RWA conference. A long trip, but so worth it!

07/01/2012 11:52am

Wow, I'm with Catie. The Scottish ancestor would definitely resonate in my dreams for a while. Also explains your spitfire personality. Wish I'd listen to my grandmother when she ranted on about my great-great grandmother who was a Cherokee Indian and served as a liaison between the various tribes and pioneers venturing West, or my grandfather's stories of serving in World War I. We think we'll remember, but age isn't kind and soon we forget. Thanks Sandy. Have a wonderful trip.

07/01/2012 7:22pm

Wow Joelene, you have to write down what you remember. This sounds wonderful! Your kids might not care now, but they will, just like you do.
They will bless you for it.
I'll be taking notes at my parents feet.

07/02/2012 4:19am

Great post, Sandy. I regret so much not writing down my grandmother's stories, but you don't think of that when you are young. I am writing some of my memories for my grandchildren...they may not be interested now, but I may be gone when they do take a notion to research their past.

07/02/2012 9:49am

I've forgotten some of the stories I'd heard as a child. Sigh. I thought my young mind would recall everything. I didn't count on getting older.
I'm glad to hear that you're writing your own experiences for your grandchildren. What a worthwhile project. Best success to you on getting what's important to you down for future generations.
They will bless you for it.

07/02/2012 8:02am

Lovely post. I have been researching my family's history, and it's been interesting and rewarding. In fact, my pen name, is my great-great grandmother's

07/02/2012 9:52am

I'm excited to find another fan of family history. It sucks me in and I can spend hours researching my ancestor's. It's an addiction.
I love that you're honoring your grand-mother by using her name.
What an honor.

07/02/2012 8:43am

Great blog! My family has always had a great link to the past and a great pride in where they come from. Some people don't think that's important, that we should focus on the country we live in or the family we're making now. However, I think that a large part of us needs to be linked to our ancestors. They have more to do with us then we think. From our holiday traditions, to the food we prepare, to the color of our eyes and even our propensity for chronic illness or emotional disorders. Learning about these things can help us be prepared, help us to honor them, and help us to evolve using the lessons of the past to guide us.

07/02/2012 9:58am

I'm in agreement with you. The information and connections we gain are beyond price. You don't know who you are without looking at where you came from. Too many people in this era don't value their past. It's a gift to know your ancestors and understand there's more to you than what's on the surface. The seeds of greatness are buried in each of us.

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