Friday, August 5, 2011

It's All About Family

Family roots are important to me and for the past year I have spent $19.99 a month on ancestry.com tracing our lineage back to the year 254 A.D.  It was exciting to find that I am the 23rd great-granddaughter of Dagobert, King of the Franks. Unfortunately I discovered that I am not the granddaughter of the Queen of Franks, but rather the King's mistress that lived down the way. I have my grandfather's eyes, but not his wife's. As I dug deeper, I found that I have roots tying back to the Visigoths that challenged the Roman Empire. It goes without saying that they were not successful. That would be like Fiji declaring war on the United States.  Not a wise strategic move. My 53rd fur wearing, sword swinging, great grandpappy was replaced by a boy king from the same tribe, probably one night over roasted boar at the community table.  "Really Aoric, could you not see that we were outnumbered? Let's get Mikey to rule...   He'll do it."    I guess bloodline wasn't the determining factor for reign, but rather who was smart enough to get in and out of Rome with few casualties and perhaps a couple of souvenirs from the Colosseum.

After I traced back 58 generations, I wanted to see what my heritage looked like on paper and found that you must spend another $129 for the Family Tree Maker software that uploads your data and puts it in nice little charts.   As I printed my pedigree, I discovered two of me coming from different branches of my tree.   Immediate panic set in as I realized there may be a mistake and perhaps I wasn't the daughter of a king.  I checked my notes and found that people must have been lonely around 1200 A.D. as they traded old wives for new ones.  I can only assume the village was small  and there were few women to choose from because my grandmother of many years ago was also my aunt.  If they had only known that this would mess up my Family Tree maker template and create a division in my tree that would take me months to straighten out.   God knew what he was doing when he said not to be adulteress.  It would later require additional html code to plot my lineage.  Selfish lovers!    I was starting to see a pattern of fighting on the wrong side and sleeping in the wrong bed.  I moved back to modern times where multiple spouses weren't common and the branches of my tree weren't uncomfortably close to one another.

While I know it is not a normal reaction, I was deeply saddened when I ran across a newspaper article describing how my great, great grandfather had hung himself in jail after wielding an axe at his family in a drunken bout of rage at the turn of the century.   I had never heard this story before and wondered if  some things so filled with sadness should just remain buried away.   I felt bad for this man whom I know possessed my DNA.   He was a German immigrant with thirteen children who worked in the brickyards of the north.  His final words to the jail keeper, just hours before his death, were spoken in fluent German.... "I can take no more..."     My heart skipped a beat and I felt a loss for a man and his family that I never knew.... a man that is responsible for my being here today.   While generations come and go, happiness and pain are common threads that run deep in all families.

A litmus test of mine that I run regularly with my children is to ask them how they will describe their childhood once they are grown and I am gone.  I want to make sure their story is true and wonderful and involves no swinging axes or battle insertions on the wrong country.  It should be about happiness, good books, silly tea parties with funny hats, competitive sports, family cookouts, bedtime prayers and more.  It is my hope that the branches to come on my family tree grow in the right direction and connect to media uploads of well families and good stories.   Perhaps one day my 33rd great granddaughter will find me and say, "Wow - my grandmother loved life - Check out that cool hat."

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