Yesterday I was musing on an article written about genealogy that rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps just my take, but it seemed like it was attempting to downplay or dismiss the value of genealogy and family trees. It reminded me of the same way an adoptive parent comes off trying to downplay the importance of a family of birth to the one adopted. Later, as I was tidying up around the house waiting for a service technician to arrive, it struck me, at it’s core, what I heard was the deflection of connection, the act of being connected to another person in a personnel and interconnected way, that bothered me and struck such a discordant note in me.
Connection and being connected to others is important to me, and I think it’s important to you my friends, when you stop by and rest a spell and chat with me. It connects us to each other through our ties to adoption that evolves into friendships overtime.
While I was waiting for a service technician to arrive, I looked at my favorite painting, a painting that never fails to evoke memories of so many stories throughout my life. Stories that happened with that painting hanging in the background. Yet the painting also tells me another story, that of a dock-worker and his wife and children who were patients of dad. I don’t remember ever meeting the artist, but it tells me that he wasn’t just a dock-worker, he was also an artist, a man that loved his family and did the best he could to provide for them. That he was an artist who painted beautiful landscapes that made you feel like you were there, seeing what he saw. Yet he also painted poignant scenes like the one I cherish; a painting of a wooden table, chair, and the old wood-burning stove with a tea-kettle sitting on a burner in what must be a log cabin, and sitting on the table, a single coffee cup, a cup that the eye is drawn back too. A painting that also begs you to imagine the life lived by that solitary soul unseen in the painting, but who must have lived there. So, not only does the painting beg me to wonder at the story in the painting, it brings back many stories of my family, and it tells me story of the dock-worker who painted pictures to pay for his families care by dad all those years ago. And the main characters of that last story and how they are woven together, the artist and dad, different professions, both with the same values who formed a connection, who shared a dedication to family, and to doing what you needed to do for your family and doing it the right way. And all those single stories are evoked just looking at that painting, it makes me feel peace, safe, and a feeling of being connected and loved, instead of being just one in a sea of other ones.
I’ll take being connected over being one in a sea of ones every day.
This morning while I’m sitting at my computer writing this story, I glance up, and see a series of pictures of my family and friends, and in all of them, dad’s gentle spirit radiates through, mom’s spirit is more animated and engaged in what’s happening in the moment. Those pictures ground me too. They also remind me of who they were (and are) to me. Their story’s end with me, unless I tell others in the family who will come after what type of people they were in their family tree’s. Even if their direct lines are finished, other lines connected to them continue on, all connected to mom and dad in some way, and all, just a little bit better because at some point in their individual lines, their ancestors were changed by knowing mom and dad, and they changed mom and dad too, and I know, changed each other for the good. That’s how it works, good people show each other how to be better, stronger, kinder, how to leave the world just a little bit better than we came into it.
That’s the legacy a family tree has. Showing and telling the stories of those who came before to those who have yet to come, whether it is a single line talking about their character, or more, you weave it in to the total picture of who that person is, was. A family tree isn’t just names, dates, places, it’s also a place to create a living document of stories, many stories, of the many people who are connected to each other in a family tree. Stories that show the continuity of that family that has continued on, despite, or in spite of, whatever life threw their way.
Cheers to my friends and thanks for listening.