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Family History Project?
Travel seems to reboot my system. I never know what I will awaken to. It's weird.
On the drive home from St Louis I jotted myself a note to write a book about my exploration of family history.
Most products of genealogy research are boring. People list who begat whom and if they're lucky come up with an ancestor who was a Civil War general or find out they're related to a politician of middling notoriety.
But family history research is about the process, the discovery. The product is the unholy trinity you start with: me, myself, and I. Who am I? What streams managed to find each other, to flow together into the river that is Me?
Ok, the river isn't just Me. It's me and my siblings. It's what we totally have in common, even though our age spread gave us distinct experiences of our parents and grandparents.
But let's get back to me.
If I'm already the product, why try to write a book? I keep thinking of Terry Tempest Williams. I finished her book "Refuge" and was impressed by how she wove together the stories of her mother's death, her family, and the Great Salt Lake ecology — an observation of the world from a very personal perspective.
Family trees have their charm, but we need stories. We need to figure out why certain facts mean something to us. In 2004, after I quit my job of 24 years, I started writing entries about expats and exiles. In 2005, after a difficult trip to St Louis where my father pulled himself back from the graveside, I was suddenly immersed in family history research. It was my father who started digging into family history after his business career ended. Somehow, he passed the torch to me... and I had a hobby in common with my mother. There is a tale to tell — all I need are the words.
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