A funny expression, isn’t it? ‘Family tree’? It paints a curiously accurate picture of a slowly growing stem with dozens upon dozens of twisting and inter-connected branches spreading back into history. It’s a fancy thing, to be able to roll out a family tree and show a friend or acquaintance. I think particularly so for Americans – we have so little impression of our heritage that it can create quite a stir to show off such a thing.
I find, however, there is an untalked and often unseen portion of genealogy; yet, it fits in this picture with near perfection. Roots.
The branches of any given family tree can be hard to trace. Sometimes you just have to accept that you’ll never know if Mary Adams father was actually Truebull Blackmore, and you’ll never verify Truebull’s existance due to a lack of records and the sheer number of spelling variations which the name excites.
Roots are different. Roots are the knowing of the family tree, the stories and the emotions which give fuel to the history and life to the present. It’s knowing how your great-great-great grandfather was so mourned because he was loved, wondering what happened to the garden he kept so faithfully. It might entail eyeing with skepticism the number of connections to the Masonic Lodge. It is reading with baited breath the story of a tournament for a fair lady’s hand in marriage and knowing that whatever truth lies behind the legend of Hoel Tours and Guy LeStrange, it’s 29 generations back on my mother’s side.
It’s knowing and acknowledging both the filthy betrayal of the man who killed Richard III and the utter service of the physician who died while tending to the plague victims of London. The bravery of those who served in wars, the courage of the widows left behind.
Whether it be fame, infamy, or anonymity, the branches are interesting puzzles to untangle, but the roots give it meaning. Do you have any favorite stories to share about your roots?
Comment below and let me know.