Friday, July 23, 2010

Pictures From the Past - Reflections of History

I have been on a quest for the last 5 years to collect pictures and stories of my ancestors.  What started out as a small project to document my grandfather's youth turned into a huge journey into the past.  I have found relatives I never knew existed and seen pictures of family dead long before my birth.

My Grandfather and His Sister
During this journey I discovered a very important thing.  I am the sum of their lives.  I have traits, both good and bad, from many of them.  I have talents and flaws that mirror theirs.  Most importantly, I enjoy the consequences of their actions.  I live where I do, I have the career I do, and I have the children I do, all because their choices put me and my family in a certain place at a certain time.

While I realize they were not thinking of me as they plowed the fields or harvested the crops, the choices they made changed the course of my history.  I doubt they will ever be mentioned in a history book, but my family's "Grapes of Wrath" story changed farmers into city folk and thus me into an engineer.

I have much to thank these ancestors for.  They provided the foundation for great progress and prosperity.  The lessons they learned have been passed down and incorporated into our lives. The sacrifices they made gave their children and grandchildren the chance to be more than the generation before.

Now I wonder what I am leaving for my family.  What choices have I made, what opportunities have I created?  Will the generations to come look at my picture and see a woman who changed their lives?

I hope so.  I hope my contribution to the family legacy is as meaningful as those who have gone before.  The tradition of family and values I have been given is something of worth and I hope it continues for generations to come.


  1. An interesting point!!! How are we shaping the futures of the generations to come in our bloodline? Puts a little pressure on us...but in a good way. Consequences to our decisions truly seem to have a ripple effect, even if it shows up years later. Love your article and the fact you appreciate all the good and not so good family traits/decisions that impacted your life.

  2. Thanks! I have learned so much from this project. I have an appreciation for where I came from. I truly am the sum of their ideas and decisions. Now I have to take it farther. I have to change things in my life to change things for my children. (I try to remember that while I am scrubbing toilets...)