I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the dates of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years?
The poem goes on but these two paragraphs pretty much sum it up. Many people globally have gotten interested in their ancestors. DNA testing kits can even be purchased at local pharmacies. The test is easy, consisting of taking a swab and brushing it on the inside of your cheek. This swab is then sent to the labs, where you will be sent in return, information on your family line and even families connections of interest.
However, being a genealogist myself, my research landed a host of names and dates, but lacked the important information that could fill in the stories for these individuals found. I wanted more than just badges on a family tree.
I recalled a story told me of a little girl who was watching her mother finish off a roast. Before she put it into the loaf pan, she sliced a small piece off the end. The little girl was puzzled and asked, “Why do you always slice off a piece of the meat?”
The mother replied, “I learned this from grandma, why don’t you go into the living room and ask her?” The little girl went into the living room and asked, “Grandma, why do you and mommy always slice a piece of the meat off before cooking it?”
Grandma looked at her with a smile and said, “I learned this from my mom,” and then added, “Why don’t you go into the bedroom and ask Nana that question.” The little girl went into the bedroom and proposed the same question to her great-grandmother.
Nana looked a bit puzzled and then said, “I don’t know why my daughter and granddaughter cut the meat, I did it because my pan was too small.”
The color of our eyes, skin, and our health issues all have their family roots. Even talents, interest, and skills seem to have their roots in the past. The question at hand is how do we find those hidden stories?
Today, the word diversity and change are an understatement; however, as we go further back into time both terms become narrower in scope allowing people to find those hidden stories. Many of those stories are hidden behind symbolism that the untrained eye misses. Other stories are hidden behind cultural traditions that have been passed down and even watered down over time.
Stories can even be found from other people’s stories who either lived in the same time or location. In the next set of blogs, I will give excerpts from my workshop on “Finding the Hidden Stories.” I would also invite you to ask your personal questions of interest on this topic.