My Parents

I was thinking about my parents recently. I was thinking about the depth of our relationships, and the trials and tribulations of growing up in their household. Make no mistake, it was their household. It wasn’t as if it was declared every morning, but it was implied frequently.

I had a great childhood, a few bits of drama here and there. And my experience was quite different than my brothers, as they were seven and seventeen years older. That makes a difference, but we were different people as well, and buttons that were pushed were different. I can only state what I felt by the relationship, based upon the events of my life.

From my father I think I got intense focus, a love of reading, independence, a love for the outdoors…he introduced me to archery, sailing, camping, many things that remained most of my life. We didn’t talk much about deeper things. He never tried, and when I did, he just nodded, and blinked. I think he was uncomfortable.

My mother was the perfect example of motherly love, always supportive, always quick with a smile, hug, kiss. She was independent as well, and had a variety of interests, good with her hands, loved pets, plants, and the care of the same.

The point is that the core of my being was shaped by these people, like it or not. Yes, certain teachers had an impact, a favorite relative or two, my brothers for example. Also, the books that I read, they had a final shaping.

And later on my marriage had shaping and polish! For me, my family had much more impact on the person that I am. I realize that this is not true for many people. But is it usually true? Or are we mostly raised by ourselves, and perhaps wolves?

I think this might be a question worthy to ponder for most people, because it can have a huge impact on cascading influences. Is there generational impact? A popular thought is that each generation is slightly better than the previous one. I think this is skewed by increased technology. If you believe this principle, then going back dozens of generations would reveal that we had the practice of eating our children, and that would have ended the line.

Some genealogists have talked about cycles, or waves. Some have postulated that we are pretty much fixed to our DNA, and we have been the same, plus or minus, for eons.

I don’t know about the long term effects, but I’m fairly certain that my short term effects are cascading. In other words, what I feel is what my parents felt about their parents. I did not know any of my grandparents as an adult, and only one was alive when I was very young, but the possibility is that a pattern was fairly consistent for at least three generations. What about the next three generations? And the next three generations after that?

There is no proof, I haven’t found a detailed written document that wrote about this concept. I know their names, dates of birth, and places of birth, but I don’t know how they thought. History can be accurate about some facts, less so on meaning and content.

The point of this thread is that I feel something unique when I discover a brand new great grandfather, or pair of great grandparents. It’s the factual unbroken line of DNA, close or far. The possibility that my 30th great grandfather thought pretty the same as I do now. I find that important, particularly if there are stories written about that individual.

So that partly explains my passion about genealogy. The next reason is not as clear, or even reasonable. I got the sense that they have been forgotten. I know this because they have been forgotten! Their children didn’t forget, and maybe even their grandchildren, but eventually their descendants became completely unaware that they have lived. Well, I suppose we all know they must be back there somewhere, but not as individuals. When I look through the various lines, I pause my finger on the names, and I try to pronounce them aloud. After generations of silence, I speak their names. They are once again remembered.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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