In The House at Rose Creek, the main character, Kate, finds an old journal in the attic of her old family farmhouse. The journal belonged to her Great Grandfather four times over and was full of his thoughts and feelings regarding his family and his faith. For Kate, reading the journal was a reminder that though time passes, the struggles and challenges that we face, even from one century to the next are frequently the same. Human struggles are the same. We all love. We fight and cry and overcome. We misunderstand and jump to conclusions; we feel sorry and try to improve.
I have an uncle who loves to do family history. My dream vacation involves traveling to his home in Missouri and barricading myself in his office until I’ve read every single document and looked at every picture he’s ever acquired. He sends me stuff on a regular basis, an event which when it occurs, makes getting the mail the highlight of my week. In the most recent stack of documents he sent, he included copies of postcards that were sent from my great Uncles, home to their families while they served in the first World War. The package also included a copy of the telegram that informed my great grandmother of her son Gordon’s death. I called one of my mother’s relatives to ask a few questions about my extended family last year. She told me a light went out when Gordie died, that no one in the family was ever really the same again.
One of my favorite family history documents is the newspaper write up about the wedding of my Great, great grandparents; full of flourish and elaborate descriptions, it was an incredible window into the personalities of the newlyweds, and the roll they played in a very close knit community. These are my people. Their story is a part of my story and I’m happy to know it.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a project of writing as much of my own family history as I can. I’ve written my personal history–significant events of my childhood, memories of my parents and grandparents. I’ve written about the heritage of faith that was passed down to my parents, that prepared them to join the LDS Church. I’ve written about how I met my husband, and quickly we fell in love. And I’ve written about my children–the funny things they say and do, the things Josh and I hope to teach them, as well as the traditions and routines of our daily life. For many years, my record keeping took the form of a blog. I wrote almost daily about my kids and my feelings about being their Mom. I compiled the first two years of my blog into a book. It makes me happy to see how much the kids love to read it, but of course they would love it. They are the stars of every story.
I’m not blogging as much anymore, a fact that often makes me sad as I look back at all the wonderful stories I recorded when I did blog. But I haven’t stopped writing things down all together. It might sound silly, but I expect there are quite a few important thoughts and memories recorded on the wall of my Facebook page. It wouldn’t be very difficult to pull them all together and turn them into something printable and long lasting. I also have a journal that once in a blue moon I dust off and write something in . . . with miracle of miracles, an actual pen!
The point, I think, is to make sure we are writing something down. One day, we will be the ancestors and our descendants will be looking for ways to learn more about us, more about what our life was like. They will be strengthened through our experiences, through the lessons and trials of our lives, but only if we are willing to record them.