Of the nearly three thousand bloggers who have chosen to share their ancestors’ stories, most are so taken with their self-appointed task as to miss the scoop right under their noses: their own story. Admittedly, I’ve done so, too, being so focused on delving into the research that would—surely!—push me back to that final, as-yet-unreached generation.
A stop yesterday afternoon to catch up with a friend over coffee reminded me that sometimes, we need to remember to also share the story that is ours, right now, as we pass through our own lifetime. Chatting about mutual acquaintances over coffee yesterday, I was reminded how moment-to-moment life can be so challenging, when that life is in the midst of a crisis.
I thought of a friend who just lost her husband. I am not speaking of someone I’m acquainted with from the generation preceding mine—I’m referring to a peer. You know: one of us who was “too young to die.” Until it happened.
We talked of another friend, who has a hemophiliac child. I’ve mentioned this friend in passing in a couple posts. The moment-to-moment challenges facing this family overwhelm me, just to think of them—yet I’m not the one who bears this burden on a daily basis. The ones who do, though, have a unique story to tell. But only if two things happen:
- They take the time to share the story
- Someone else takes the time to receive it.
Whether that story is told verbally, through pictures, via a taped recording, or in a written form is not so important as is one other point: that it be shared. Those are the elements that make up our own micro-history. They need to take their place in the parade of generations.
While we are so busy telling the stories of our families that date from fifty years ago, one hundred years ago, or more, we can’t neglect to insert our own stories. I’m preaching to myself as I say that, rushing back and forth this week trying to provide behind-the-scenes support as our family business’ schedule cranks through a time squeeze. And yet, I can’t find a way to insert that into a post. Why not?
It’s as if there were an unwritten law of blogging that one must never show one glimmer of personal circumstances that might deflect from the stated purpose-at-hand of the blog’s raison d’être.
I brushed up against a chance to challenge this notion a few times in the past year, but always guiltily, as if violating some great universal principle. How hard it was to even admit it was difficult to keep posting, when attending to some dire health needs for a family member who subsequently passed away!
It seemed a bit more excusable to share such more-recent family stories when they involved someone else—like the stories I’ve posted regarding the intersection of genealogical research and inherited illnesses. Of course, at this time of year, when our family is so heavily invested in working with local high schools on their Every 15 Minutes programs, it’s easier to talk about the unusual tasks our family has taken on to help support these events. That’s what gave me the personal sense of permission to divulge Frank Stevens’ difficult life: that’s the very story my husband shares when he speaks to high school students every spring.
Perhaps thinking such thoughts as I did on my way home from coffee with my friend put me in just the right frame of mind to read a fellow blogger’s post yesterday. The creator of the blog Abbie and Eveline set out to design a place where the stories she remembered from her grandmothers could be preserved. Something unexpected occurred along the way: she was diagnosed with cancer. For the long “meanwhile” in which she was absent from her blogging project, she underwent chemo and a stem cell transplant. When she emerged to write again, the family history sometimes gave way to stories about a much younger generation: her own.
But that’s okay.
It’s not only all right, it sometimes turns out to be quite powerful. That’s all I can say about her reflections on her experience that she combined into a thoughtful post at the end of March. If you haven’t yet seen it, I hope you will take the time to read it. You can find it here.
When I made it to the end of Kathy Morales’ post, “The Power of Symbols,” it reminded me that, though we purpose to share our families’ stories in our genealogy blogs, at some point, our stories will take their place among those of our ancestors. Why not include them now? Just as much as our ancestors have stories that need to be told, our descendants will someday want to know our stories, too.
We may as well set the record straight by volunteering our own version now.