As a teenager, I never imagined the rock star, Prince, would die so young (or that 57 would seem young. My grandmother will be 103 in the fall – that, my friends, is old).
We GenXers thought 1999 would never come. We were the “pessimistic generation” who saw things as they really were: broken homes & nuclear threats. We were named GenX because we were the forgotten ones growing up oh so fast. Things would never really work out we thought. Don’t expect too much and so on. Music by Prince sounded upbeat, hopeful- just what we needed.
It’s the end of an era.
As a cynical GenXer, I realise that our John Hughes world is fading into autumn.
As such, it’s important to face our mortality and get our affairs in order.
Get a will.
While death is not pleasant to consider, it’s coming. We need to record the stories for the millennials- our generation of optimists.
Some weeks ago, I found a book written in 1906 about part of my French Hugenot family in America.
The book is so clever and has a numbering system, making it easier to find who is who (all first names were William and Elizabeth). My ancestors could not have imagined creating a digital family tree that could be handheld.
I do this out of curiosity and to leave a legacy for my sister’s kids- so that they know how they fit into this country. Very well, in fact. Their ancestors were some of the earliest Europeans to establish themselves in what would become America. There were sea captains, timber barons, plantation owners, carpenters, soldiers, doctors, servants (both European and African), teachers, farmers and mothers of 20. This part of the family first arrived in the 1500’s.
Each time I find something really interesting, like a boy whose mother was killed and scalped by an existing tribe and who later did not want to return to his European family, I group text them the story or photo. I know that it may be lost on them until they reach the age facing their own mortality, but this plants the seed. That they will know how to find out how they belong in the world when they have their own families.
They can tell their kids “You are Americans- a mix of English, Scottish, French, Swedish, German, Swiss, African and Asian…and here are the stories from old Auntie…”
With the advent of Ancestry and going digital, an explosion of information has opened an incredible world.
Whenever I find something really amazing, I text them all as “youngins” right away and tell them the stories.
My hope is that someday, they may take an interest and be able to tell their own children their heritage. In doing this, may they and their kids identify with people from all over, making them feel a bit more connected to a village-like world.