Monday, October 17, 2011

We Are the Chosen

by Della M. Cumming, 1943; edited by Melody Hull

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story!" So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before...? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us." How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, "I can't let this happen." The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to a deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth. It goes to deep and immense understanding that they all were doing it for us, that we might be born who we are, that we might remember them, and so we do. Without any of them, we could not exist, and so we love each one as far back as we can reach. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, we are they and they are the sum of who we are. That is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory--or greet those whom we have never known before.

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.


Looks like I've become the one that's going to carry on the family research. It's been interesting so far. Stuff I knew, and new stories to find out and archive for future generations.

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