Friday, February 03, 2006

Heritage ... What does it truly mean?

How many of us really know a lot about our family? About our mothers and fathers lives and the lives of their families while they were growing up? How much do we know about their siblings; our aunts and uncles? How much do we know about the lives of our grand-parents and their families and family members? What do we really know about the lineage of our families beyond our immediate grand-parents: parternal and maternal?

Do we really know where we come from? Do we have a full-picture and understanding of what it took for them to get to where they could provide us what we have now? Did their actions acutally place us where we are now... or not? To whom do we owe our current positions-in-life? Do we owe anyone, anything?

This is a question I began asking myself - seriously - soon after my mother passed-away in 1990. That event, was the beginning of my life as an orphan; my father had died in 1979; my little sister, Mary, who was the first such loss our family had known, died in 1961.

Now it is only me and my older brother, John. We have become the remnant members of OUR FAMILY. We ARE the 'left to carry on' generation. But what does that mean? I have pondered that question... a lot lately. My brother has 2-sons and 1-daughter; and I have 1-son. So, we have male progeny to 'carry-on' the family name. But just what does that mean? Just what is 'carried forward'? And how, is - whatever carried-forward means - done? Serious questions that never truly occured to me before. But they are with me quite regularly now.

This was not the first time I'd been confronted with such ideology. On a number of occassions aunts, uncles, grandparents and others of the 'older folks', had made comments - either to me or in my presence - that left me with these words ringing in my ears:
"One day you will want to know all about your family: who they are and where they came from: but it may well be too late. 'Cause by then, most of us will be gone. So find out now... while you still can."

For me and many others in my so-called, Baby-Boomer Generation, that time has come. Sadly, as is the case in most generations, we did not heed the earlier warnings. We did not seek to find the information that, for so many of us, is no longer available. Many of those who could provide us with the knowledge, understanding and most importantly, wisdom - learned by our family-collective, are now gone. To find out this information we must now embark on our own archeological journey. It will also be, in all likelyhood, as difficult as trying to find out the origin of ancient civiliazations.

Fortunately, just as it is for the acheologist of today, there are clues we can follow. Yet, much of what we find will have to be 'filled-out' with our interpretations and conjectures. No doubt, much of them will be error ridden. This is the price we now must pay for our immature carelessness. Our lack of interest in those elements of life that truly matter. We made a choice and now must live with ... or in this case, without it.

The younger generation still has an opportuntity to break this chain of ill-conceived conceit. Many of the members of today 2nd Hand Lions group, ARE THE younger generation. You still have access, as no other generation in the history of mankind, to an immense arsenal of media collection and achival tools. Tools that will aid you in codifying the events of your family history. But will you do it? Ah, this IS the million dollar question, is it not. I truly hope you all will.

In an upcoming posting I will offer you a few ideas I have found. Not the least of which is: "To those below the age of 50, begin NOW to explore, find and document the historical record of your family heritage; while you still have the luxery of time to do so."

I'd really like to hear your comments and insight on this topic as well. There are a lot very special insights into our spiritual lives here as well. And guess what - you don't see them so well at an earlier age either. Surprise.. surprise.

'Til next time ...

Uncle Garth