With so many people around me having milestone birthdays and dramatic family events, it’s not surprising that they are taking stock of their lives. I’m frequently hearing, “This is it?” about life.
I’m not sure if it’s my general outlook or my ties to my ancestors or both, but I do not share this view. I look around me--- at my children, my husband, my pets, my family, my home, my job, my world--- and I think to myself, “I must be the luckiest person. This is all wonderful.” I’m not saying every aspect is always wonderful, but just that I have a deep, possibly naïve, gratitude for it all.
I’ve been wondering lately if maybe it’s my genealogy that keeps me grounding in this way. Afterall, I know the answer to “Is this it?” -- of course not.
My third great grandfather suffering from the measles during the Civil War might have thought, “Is this all there is to my life?” He was in a war, sick, and building bridges under cover of night. Is that all there was to his life? Of course not, Grampa. There is your daughter, Hattie, to come. There is her son, his son, his son and then his daughter—your third great granddaughter who will love you from this many years and miles away. There are all the others in between. Their lives, loves, losses. Trials and tribulations. Of course this isn’t it.
My “aunt” Vera. She maybe thought, “Is this it?” She was an “old maid” with only her niece to care for and be cared for after the others passed. She wasn’t a mother or grandmother or even my true aunt. But was this it for her? Of course not. Vera’s lessons and stories live on. Her ancestors’ stories are still there for the telling. The daffodil bulbs she tended still make flowers each year. Vera’s Chicken Wings and Peas are served nearly monthly, causing us to remember her often. So was that it for Vera? Of course not.
I like to look around me and see the past of those who came before and made it possible. I like to see the present of what’s around me and admire what it takes to maintain. And in doing this, I can see the future of it all. And know that of course this isn’t it. Is it my outlook or is it my genealogy giving me a grander perception, a deep love for the world that allows us to persevere generation after generation?
This is never “it.”