Roots Tech 2015 (#Rootstech) opened with the question “Who inspires you?” Video clips showed various individuals naming famous heroes. After a few minutes, the answers segued into naming family members. It was a nice way to start thinking about how we introduce our family members. Not just who inspires us, but why or how they inspire.
I felt a pang—missing my Aunt Ann and wishing she could share this adventure with me. She led the quest to explore the Crymes family’s history. In fact, it’s not unusual to see her name as the reference of information on genealogy forums. She’d be awed by the crowds.
“Discovery” is a byword here. I wondered, what drives a person to embark on a journey of discovery? Is it rooted in curiosity? A need to connect and bond? Enamoredment (is that a word?) with the past? Something else?
Of course the answer is “all of the above.”
Aunt Ann certainly had curiosity. Like most family historians, she was an explorer. But she didn’t choose a path to explore new worlds or discover things never experienced before. Instead, she trod down roads and paths well worn by the footsteps of others. And, not to over romanticize, she drove to countless courthouses and cemeteries. The footfalls that went before weren’t technically all her ancestors. Or maybe they were. Aunt Ann had a broader definition of family.
Not only was she a load-bearing beam of the family and its history. She knew her community. When you asked her about a census record, she didn’t focus only on the household or individual in question. She’d tell you about the neighbors and their role in the community, where their lines crossed or connected with ours, and what neighbors were related.
I think that “something else” is love and compassion. Love of family, love of sharing history.
Your Turn: Who inspires you?
Go ahead and write it down. Who in your family inspires you? How do they inspire you? Why? Share the story–and the love!