Sunday 17 June 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge: F is for.....

On the back of the A-Z April Challenge, the lovely folk at Gould Genealogy devised another challenge - Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Each week, we work through the letters of the alphabet sharing perhaps an elusive ancestor, a favourite or particular ancestor, or perhaps a heirloom.

Fis for Families

I am sure that you are familiar with the saying "You can choose your friends, but not your family".  

Just this week my husband was reflecting and remembering on things from his early childhood. After a few minutes he asked  me to "Google it and see what comes up". Well, what came up from the Google search was to be honest horrifying. I do not mean research that other's had done and shared via the internet. This was information from official sources and as we read and re-read we sat in horrified silence.

The information was read several times and later as we got into bed and I picked up a book hopeful of a few pages reading before the eyes began to close, my husband started to talk again about what we had read. I pointed out several things. Firstly, we are not responsible for the doings of our family members, whether they are alive or dead and like it or not, we can not turn the clock back. We simply have to find a way of dealing with the knowledge that we now have.

In the morning as we had a first drink of the day, my husband turned to me and commented that he was simply ashamed of the situation. I reiterated the comments I had made of the night before. Since then there has been no further mention, but I know, the way you do when you have lived with someone for 20 years that the wheels and thoughts are continuing. Just as my research into the information is.

Absolutely, we can not choose our family. We are part of an established group, which yields parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Some of those people we share not just a blood bond with but also an emotional attachment to. Others are simply a blood connection whilst others we have no blood connection, but have an emotional connection with, perhaps in the case of honorary relations - Aunts, Uncles etc.

Quite recently I attended a family funeral. In the last 2 years we have had four bereavements, three on my side of the family and one on my husband's side. Of the three bereavements on my side, I was able to attend two of the funerals. Inhibited in attending the third by miles and many of them! The emotional attachment that I felt to those individuals was huge and each one in their own way leaves quite a gap. So I stood as we all paid our last respects at the most recent funeral. I was proud to do so.

The contribution that each of us makes to our own family establishment is unique. Feeling proud of our families is something that I hope we all feel in some way. I was very proud as I realised that the congregation at that recent funeral was more than 200 people, many were standing at the back, squeezing in where they could. Simply to pay their respects to another individual who had been a father, brother, grandfather, cousin, uncle, friend and colleague.

Sobering thoughts and comments for what I had planned to be a different piece of writing for this week's contribution.


  1. Anonymous11:48 am

    Thought provoking post. The internet opens the door for a lot of skeletons to hop out of the proverbial cupboard. I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out how many of their family secrets are in the public domain. Hope your husband accepts your words of wisdom.

  2. Family is a word that sits at the heart of our culture and carries with it so many emotional connotations. Despite the fact that we know intellectually that families can be far from perfect we still somehow expect they are. Acceptance is such a difficult state to achieve.

  3. It is not easy to change our mental and emotional picture of our family. Sometimes it's difficult even when we are witness to the events or their aftermath, it must be especially shocking to find out on the internet.

  4. A very intriguing and interesting post.
    I'm reminded of a nursery rhyme. Sorry I can't remember it all but it went along the lines of "When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid". If we can find something easily on Google about our ancestors, it often means that they were either very good or very horrid.


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