This week we have been doing family history research on ancestry.com for an old friend. It’s been a wild journey, which wound up with us in a local cemetery trying to do what we could to love and restore a plot that isn’t even our family… but, the two babies and their parents still matter! To give someone love was a great feeling, no matter who they are. Caroline and Christian would never have dreamed at in a century, two strangers would spend two hours in summer heat trying to find them, and would want to know their story.
If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s please, put in photos, hobbies, occupations and details into your genealogy records. Make your memoir legible and keep it on a CD Rom or something that will stand the test of time. (CD Roms and DVDs have a life of 50 years. Give them out liberally. Someone will be interested one day, and will transfer them to the next format available.) My friend hadn’t seen my Grandfather’s war medals until I found copies online. She had no idea he had them, or where he served. He was a swordsman in WWI, then went into Naval Service. Her other ancestors came to Australia to escape a war, we didn’t know that either, but it makes her parent’s deliberate emphasis on spelling the surname correctly (not like the enemy side spells their equivalent) understandable. Oddly enough, they probably didn’t even know why their parents had taught them to do the same. It was three generations back.
Graves and their inadequate plaques do not last forever, whether concrete, marble or bronze. One grave had been through three major floods. There was nothing left, not a marker on the row or any sign of the past. Just a long stretch of grass. If you don’t tell your story and capture the stories of the loved ones around you, they will be gone. It’s impossible to piece people back together. All you have are dates, facts and presumptions and the frustration of never knowing.
Tell your future what you want people to know and make it come alive.