... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Heritage

Recently I have been looking into our family heritage. It is interesting what one can find on google. I grew up knowing very little about my extended family and never knew any of my grandparents. Details are sketchy at best. The other day I found my Great Grandmothers death certificate online. (Random I know. Completely unexpected but there it was in the Swedish paper.) Being in Swedish I had to use an online translation tool to work it all out. (Eventually I got there.)

My father sent me this family photo during the week. 
(Face book is good for that and connecting over the miles.)
It must be the only one we have.
A good catholic family ... so many children!
My Grandmother is the one seated on the left: 
~ Olga Violet Pettersson ~
From Left to right - Olga, Carl, Maria, Frank, Vera (back row)
Frank Snr, Hilly, Florence and Norma (front row)

My fascination with investigating the past has led me down many rabbit warrens, the journey however has been completely entertaining and thoroughly enlightening. (Particularly when you are stuck in bed with the flu!! Thank goodness for a laptop!) 

Understanding how the past reaches into our future despite generational divides is complex and compelling. I find it utterly fascinating. To understand how the past has had a hand in shaping me and moulding me often leaves me contemplative and reflective, especially when I try to analyse and dissect the things I believe, the choices I have made and the person I have ultimately become. (Yes, I am choleric by nature!) It is both scary and enthralling all at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer in moving on and letting go, of not dwelling in the past. But, there is something about knowing the history you have come from ... the battles that were fought by a generation that went before you, the victories that have been won on your behalf. 

Just knowing that these people made a perilous journey on a crowded ship across a vast ocean to begin a new life in a foreign country is inspiring ... They came with very little, yet, they courageously forged this life. Adapting to a different culture, novel customs and a strange language system so far removed from what they had previously known. They made sacrifices that allow me the amazing freedoms I have today. I am truly grateful. 

As I work at piecing the little genealogy I have together, a picture is slowly emerging. I am encouraged to know that fearless people went before me. Determined, resolute individuals who set out for the new world (New Zealand - the promised land.) I wonder about the notion of where I would be without the choices that were made by my ancestors. Who would I be? 

It is hard to comprehend anything but what I now know. I try to picture myself on a small Swedish Island in the baltic sea and can't quite envisage it. I roll around the name in my mind - Gotland, trying to make it fit. But I can't imagine myself there! It's a piece of the puzzle that just wont fit. 

When I think about the losses I have suffered in my lifetime, the things that have changed my history and impacted that of my children ... the things that could keep me down or hemmed in. I can't help but be inspired by the determination so firmly etched in the features of my ancestors. Spirits completely resolute have trailed before me. I look at these people so solemnly spread out in this family photo and am eager to know their stories more intimately. Some day, in the halls of heaven, I hope to hear in detail how they made the future I now live, so very possible!

The past is indeed a great teacher, history a great story.

'Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it' - George Santayana

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