Tuesday, January 13, 2015

All Are Architects of Fate

I've never known much about my paternal side of the family, and that's always bugged me. Whenever I watched the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? I would wonder if tracing my ancestry would lead to any surprises.  (Nice surprises, like descending from royalty.)

For Christmas, Frank gave me a subscription to Ancestry.com.... and I promptly fell down the rabbit hole of researching.  It was perfect timing because I didn't teach the week of New Year's, so I could spend some extra time on my family tree.  And when I say "extra time, " I actually mean that most days that week I could tell you the name of my 16x great grandfather but I had no idea what we were going to eat for dinner.  Rarely have I gotten so lost in a project.

It's interesting because I have all this information that I didn't have before: names, dates, locations, and then I start wondering about the actual people.  Why did they move to a certain location?  Was she a good mother?  What was it like to be in the Revolutionary War?  What was it like to learn your husband was killed in the war?  Were they smart?  Happy? Hard-working?   Those questions will probably never be answered.

Frank has gotten sucked into researching as well, and we've spent several evenings looking up particular people and places and wondering whether our ancestors knew each other (they might have!) and fighting over the computer. :)

Despite having to share the computer in the evenings, I like that he's had fun doing it, too, and it has really highlighted to both of us that family is what it's all about.  My man H.W. Longfellow was right on...
The Builders
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb.

Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky


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