Daily Illuminator

November 21, 2023: Family Ties

A very old family tree that is quite unlikely you are listed on

Ever consider where you came from? I don't mean, "Austin, Texas," but, "Where are my roots?" I did! 

More than 30 years ago – 1987, to be exact – I had just graduated high school, and I was living at home with my parents in California (yes, I am that old). I was told we were going to Santa Barbara for a family reunion on my grandmother's side. At this point, I only knew, or thought I knew, that my grandma had three sisters. Boy, was I wrong! My grandmother was one of seven children. Her mother, my great-grandmother, was one of twelve! I didn't even realize people had that many children, because everyone I knew had maybe three!

We spent the day with people I had never met before. I was a shy 18-year-old, but they were family! Family who lived in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and other parts of California. Because they lived so far away, I had never had the chance to meet them! I remember that we ate tacos from a taco stand they had brought in to cater, and we played baseball and broke a piñata. It was a blast!

By the time I got back home, something had clicked deep inside of me. I started to gather information on my relatives – who was related to whom, who married whom, how many kids they had, and so on. By the following year's family reunion, my research had unlocked the whole generation before us! The genealogical bug had bitten me, and I became obsessed with who was related to whom, and how.

Today I have six family trees going, and I am currently attending an online school to become a Genealogical Researcher. 

What's the point of this story? Family! Sometimes, family is all we have. Do they have to be related to you by blood? No, not necessarily! Family are people who are there for you no matter what happens in your life. Family can be co-workers, neighbors, best friends from high school, or those actual blood-related family members. Family loves you for who you are, no matter what.

This is where the roots come in. Roots can be a tangled mess under a beautiful tree. You can't untangle them, but you can embrace them for what, or who, they are.

-- Denise Dow

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