|My beautiful Grandmother, Maybell.|
I spent the majority of my Saturday in bed with one of the worst headaches I've ever had. I couldn't really read because of it and I could only sleep so much. We don't have a TV, much less cable, so to keep myself occupied, I got on Hulu to find anything to watch. I wasn't picky. I landed on "Who Do You Think You Are?", a show where famous celebrity types go on a hunt to discover their family tree and family histories. I was completely enthralled and ended up watching an entire season of it. It inspired me to try to do the same.
I realize, of course, that I do not have the resources that these major celebs have to travel all over the world to uncover the stories of their ancestors all in one go, but I think, over time I could begin to piece it together, bit by bit, as resources and time allows. But I feel almost as though I owe it to my future children and grandchildren, and even to our cousins and other family members, to begin forming the narrative of our family.
Over the last year, I have begun to understand and embrace the idea and the truth of generational wounds and the importance of understanding those wounds and confronting them in order to become more fully who I am meant to be. This idea is much more than the "sins of your mother and father" kind of thing, though that is part of it, I'm sure. It's about circumstances, environments, and yes, choices, that surround each branch of the family tree and how that has affected them and informed their experiences and choices and so on and so on. As I've become more aware of this idea, I've begun to see it everywhere. I see the pain, the suffering, the difficulty that these wounds can cause when not confronted and dealt with. I've also seen the joy and freedom that confronting the bondage of these wounds can bring. And I start to feel an urgency to learn as much as I can about these generational wounds and how far back they go, so that I can take my place in the narrative and, maybe even change the course.
Some of the episodes spoke directly to this idea, though without the same verbage. For example, Jason Sudeikis learned that there were several generations of men on his paternal side raised without fathers and it was then that it struck him how huge it was that his father was there and was present. His father broke the chain and it gave him a renewed sense of commitment to being a father himself one day.
The other side of these discoveries is finding the strength and determination that so many ancestors have exhibited to overcome those harsh realities and those wounds, which can serve to gird your own strength to face the sufferings that come your way. So much about who we are and who we can be and are meant to be can be found in the stories and the over-arching narratives of our family lineages. It's absolutely fascinating, and to me, speaks to the bigness of God. To think that He sees as far back as you can trace it and beyond, to where YOU are, right now...in this moment...to generations to come, that you will birth...it's humbling and mind-boggling and comforting.
I have a new hobby, I guess. My dream is to craft an actual narrative, a book of sorts, from both mine and Mr. Ford's family lines, as far back as I can go, all the way down to our story, that I can give to my children and share with my grandchildren. I want them to know where they come from, the legacies that have been passed to them. I want them to be armed with as much knowledge as possible about these legacies so that they can live their lives as free from the generational wounds as possible. This may take me a lifetime to complete, but I'm committed to it. I already know a lot about my grandparents and my parents, though I realize there is still a lot I don't know. I think I know where I want to start. I know where my story meets some of these others, but I want to know how their stories started.
One other aspect to this, is just the opportunity to know my parents and my grandparents as young adults and as children. I think so often, as we grow up, we don't bother to understand and realize that our parents had lives before us...and their parents before them. What were their childhoods like? You remember your childhood, right? Did your parents experience the same carefree joys that you did? Or did they experience deeply traumatic moments that left them wounded? How does that affect you now? And how can an understanding of those moments affect how you relate to them now, as an adult yourself? Who were they as young adults? What experiences shaped them in those years? The last several years have been a lesson in this for me.
One of the great joys of my life, was getting to know my Grandmother Maybell as an adult. It started, three years ago, when I helped move her into a new apartment from a place she had lived for years and years. Uncovering old photographs and other memorabilia that she had held onto opened avenues for those conversations. There was a wounded, but terribly resilient woman. So many stories that I only heard bits and pieces of, but even that gave me a better understanding of who she was, what she fought against, and the legacy she left. I had so many questions I would have loved to ask her...but she's not around anymore for me to ask. So I have to find another way. And that's just ONE story in a long line of stories that form one greater narrative.
The narrative of the human experience, really. Hm. What a thought. What an adventure! The adventure of the human story is vast, expansive, and intricate. And we are part of that greater story.
Whoa. Chew on that.
PS - If you're related to either Mr. Ford or myself, and have pieces of the story you can help to fill in, get in touch! The best part of this whole thing is the opportunity for deeper connection it offers us.