I never gave the business much thought or consideration, until these more recent years. For meaningful and useful purposes, knowledge of my ancestral roots was limited to the generation represented by my mother and father, their immediate siblings, and a small league of first-cousins.
Most of my life has been lived in the proverbial here and now with a mindset that was essentially carried along by the concerns and currents, by the winds and waves, of contemporary life in these present times. Little of the oral history regarding my ancestry had been passed down to me. My genealogical roots were therefore necessarily short and shallow. That mindset began to take on something of a different nature a few years ago when Shirli started the long and arduous process of digging and unearthing the genealogical artifacts of my ancestral Southern lineage.
While it would be something of a truthful expression, to say that the fruit of her efforts have been interesting and historically revelatory would not adequately express the effects that her research and discoveries have begun to have on me. No. Their import is of much larger significance.
Their effects are life changing. They are reconnecting me with my own ancestral history, giving insight into the substance of my own animated human character, providing answers to many of the gnawing and haunting unanswered questions that have ever been integrally embedded deep within the fabric of my being, questions that I did not know how to ask. I will ever be in her debt for her inquisitive love of history, for her love for the hunt that compels her to invest multiplied long hours digging, searching for, and finding the real bones from whence my own genes derive.
Its inevitability is unavoidable. One of these days mortality will overtake me. I’ll be dead and gone. That inevitable crossing, one that makes me seriously ponder the worth of life and the manner in which so much of life in modernity reflects an orphaned nature, grows closer with each passing day. I’ll do my best to hold it at bay as long as I can but I must admit that the years seem to be stacking up faster. The time that we have in this world is a precious gift, one that pleads for wise investment.
An urgent question is raised in our Christian Scriptures. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It seems rather obvious to me that the proprietary impetus of this modern society is to treat our historic foundations of faith, honor, and loyalty with contempt, garnering in their place other obvious results. We have largely, as a society in these rapidly changing and uncertain times, become a society of wandering orphans.
I do not, for the sake of my progeny and for other interested souls, want to pass from this world without leaving behind something of an accurately reconstructed record of our personal historical Southern legacy, one that brings us to this particular and peculiar 21st Century juncture in time. I consider this record, one of garnered factual data necessarily interspersed with the most educated and intelligent surmise that we can possible assemble, to be the most valuable gift that I can possibly procure and lay on the table before them.