Do you remember my words from the past? Genealogy and History are all around you. They spring up when you’re near, a small clue or a breathtaking sky above you, a worn path upon the ground, a flower desperately seeking attention for its fragrance, tall trees reminding you they once had a beginning, small and meek. All of these things hold a past that links directly to you. When we strive to take in the wonder of our journey, we soon begin to realize all things surround our yearning to know, the wonderment of it, and what it really means to us. Time, such a small word defining our existence; without it, our journey would never be. Remember to look around you today with peace and tranquility as you journey through your space and discover the past.
Many years ago, my father told me the story of his family. He recited this not from a book but from memory. This side of my family kept the old traditions alive as their stories passed from one generation to another. My Dad was a musician, gifted with natural talent. I inherited a portion of this gift from him. I could go on and on about him. He was a hard man, strict with his morals. He believed in working hard, and charity received was rare. If his truck needed repair, he fixed it. If the house was cold, he warmed it. I didn’t always agree with his methods or his opinions, but I grew to understand them. He could be vicious with his temper and open with his views on life. My Dad was quite a man.
I can’t remember how many times he embarrassed me in front of my friends or the public arena. Self-employed almost his entire life, he set the rules for both home and work. A brick mason by trade, I’ve watched Daddy build fascinating structures. Everything from beautiful rock chimneys to magnificent brick homes. He experimented once with logs for a customer, and the results were astonishing. A log house was built from the ground up, including a rock fireplace and chimney.
Spending so much time outdoors, he was an avid hunter, and many times, we sat down to supper with fresh meat on the table from his hunting skills. He loved to fish as a young boy, and fishing every chance he got continued throughout his life. I thought nothing would make him change. He was stubborn, filled with pride, and I could see him outliving us all. He was so strong and never backed down from anything or anyone.
He chose a large tree branch once and attached a pulley to it. He then wrapped a rope around his old Ford engine and pulled it upward. He rebuilt the engine and made that truck run well over 300,000 miles. This man baked his girls’ birthday cakes, not every year but at times, and they were good, just not as good as Moms. Strong as an ox, nothing could take him down. But I was wrong.
Three days after my Mom’s 65th birthday, she passed through this world and entered another. I received the phone call as I was heading into work. I will never forget where I was on the road; my eyes filled with tears, and my world changed at that moment. Mom’s death changed everything within my Dad. He was a different person his thoughts, his hobbies, his daily routines all changed. Nothing could bring back the man that once stood determined in his direction; no words were enough. I watched this man deteriorate right in front of my eyes. I felt so helpless, and then he said to me, “If all that I knew before is gone, there is nothing here for me anymore. Peace is somewhere else. Remember what I told you and know that I love you.” Christmas went by, and we shared laughter and good stories. I even got him to play some of the old tunes on his banjo during early spring. By summer, he was in the hospital, not eating and so thin. The last time I saw him, he smiled and said I’ll see you in a few days. You be careful on the road. Watch out for those idiots. I started down the hall, but I turned back as if something told me to turn around. I peered back in his room, and he waved. Bye Daddy, I love you. I love you too.
He passed quietly in his sleep, finally at peace. I realized that his entire existence and his journey centered around Mom. His love for life was Mom, his passion for working was Mom, his everything was Mom. He missed her so much. Daddy lived five years and seventeen days after Mom’s death. I remember what you told me, Daddy. I remember.
As you go through your journey today, stop and look around you. Let the past open the doors to new clues, hints, and much more. A past conversation will trigger a spontaneous search within your family history, or you may wander down an old path that leads you back to a place when you were a kid. We are as unique as the heavens. We react differently to our surroundings and the events happening around us. Our ancestors are just as complex, if not more. Genealogy and History are all around you; enjoy your journey today, my friends.
Dad shared his memories of the family with me. He passed down old stories and old songs from his grandparents and great-grandparents. He told me where they lived, how they lived, what his conversations were with them. Dad remembered everything down to the last detail. His memory was so sharp and direct that it still amazes me today. I was going through old notes from Dad completing the Appalachian music article when I stopped in my tracks to write this dedication for him today. Thanks Daddy, for your strength, your memories, the tears, the laughter, and a father’s love. I’ll see you again one day in the future.
Categories: Genealogy #OffTheGrid