This sweet poem reflects my feelings so perfectly, I just had to re-post it here.
The ancestors call me,
they whisper in my ear
Tell my story for all to hear.
I had a family, I had a home.
I walked this earth
but not alone.
We’ve been silent for all these years.
Speak our dreams
and share our tears.
The ancestors call me,
They whisper their name,
Tell my story so we may live again.
– Ellen Thompson-Jennings
Ellen Thompson-Jennings is a fellow genealogy blogist with some great stuff to share at Hound on the Hunt.
Every time I make a new entry into my tree I tend to get very involved in their lives. I always wonder, why did they have 15 children? Did they love each of their children the same? Why did this one, in a time of large families, only have two children? Were they suffering the effects of infertility? And what of those that had no children at all? How many of us just skip over them because there were no heirs of their genes? They were just as much a part of humanity as someone with 10 children. I am sure that they made huge contributions to society of their era. Every time I see a child that died within the first few years of life, I grieve with the family, especially the mother at the loss of her child. I think of myself and my dear mother as she lost her beloved son that was born a year before me and died of a heart defect. Even though I wasn’t born then, I grieved his loss and always wondered what it would have been like to have a sibling near my age. Or the mother that gave her life giving birth to her child? And what of the women who never married? They are nearly forgotten in the field of genealogy, and it makes me sad.
Recently I visited the Machias Community Cemetery in Snohomish, Washington. I don’t know any of these people, but
I lived across the street from this cemetery for 18 years, so I almost feel related to them all. In photographing and sharing these headstones and many more that day, I feel like I have done something to perpetuate their memories. There is nothing like being a genealogy addict that makes you understand your mortality more. Each time I enter a death date in my tree, It makes me realize even more that death is just as much a part of our lives as birth. Some people, and myself included believe in an eternity, so I don’t fear dying. To go to a cemetery and photograph headstones is to me like honoring them and passing on something of their life to this generation. We as genealogy hobbyists or professionals are an odd bunch I guess, because we get excited to go visit the graveyard.