Family History

I just finished a book called A Different Kind of Normal by Cathy Lamb. It was a beautiful book, and not just because the plot was amazing either. Weaved into the storyline was that particular family’s history, tracing way back to the early 1800s. It was memorizing, and it made me wistfully sad.

I never really knew why I started blogging back in 2005, when I was in the middle of high school navigating through the choppy waters of adolescence. I wanted my voice to be heard…sure. I enjoyed writing, of course. It gave me a therapeutic release and I found a place amongst the blogging community.

I suppose, looking back at it now…a major reason for my continuation of blogging and writing is to get out my story, my life. A little piece of family history for those down the line.

It makes me wistfully sad because I wish I knew about the lives of those before me in the family tree. What were their aspirations? What worries kept them up at night? Who did they fall for? How did their love story occur? Was it love at first sight? Did they just know the moment they met their future spouse that this was it? What was parenting really like for them? What was their world like?

I wish that some of my ancestors had kept journals of some kind. I wish that, like in the book, every member in the family tree kept the history alive by verbally repeating the stories they heard from their mothers and grandmothers. We have bits and pieces, but nothing concrete.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m writing a memoir. It’s a work in progress, and it’s so much harder to write a memoir than to write a fiction, but I’m determined to one day finish it. A little piece of family history that the boys can pass down from generation to generation.

I wish I could write the family history of those before me too, so that it would never be lost. It makes me sad that the majority of my family believes that those stories are private, and don’t speak of them. This makes me sad because our future generations won’t learn the rich history we have…the experiences that made people who they were, the experiences that shaped decisions that changed the coarse of life for all.

I can, however, take the wheel of my own life’s direction and keep the flame of my story alive for my future generations by whispering my tale. This is what happened…this is how we lived…this is how I struggled and rose above it…this is how and why I became who I will as an old lady.

Everyone has a story to tell, and each story is majestic in its own way. Even raw and powerful tales of hardships. Those hardships shape us, they truly do. They’re nothing to be ashamed of.

Now I have one question for those of you reading right now…what do you wish to leave with your future generation? Just a name, or a story full of grit and life?


About J.C. Hannigan

25. Mother. Wife. Lover of words. Weaver of stories. My first book, Collide, is available in e-book for Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
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7 Responses to Family History

  1. I wish I could see the journals of my ancestors too. That would be neat. It’s great to think about blogging as a sort of time stamped journal online.

    I can’t wait to read your finished memoir. You have so much to give people as a writer. I find your journey to be inspiring and it will help so many.

  2. Gerry says:

    Have you read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides? It goes a little beyond just family history, but your description of the book made me think of it. Definitely check it out, if you haven’t. One of my all time favorite books.

    I often wish I knew more about my family’s past. Throughout my life, I’d hear bits and pieces of things that seemed interesting, but as the years went on, I never bothered to ask for more details. I have tons of cousins in Cuba that I’ve never met and realistically, never will. My side of the family is really just down to me, my mom, her fading sister and two cousins. My daughters will likely never meet anyone else on my side, which is sad, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes. All I can do is make sure they know me at this point. So, I guess that’s what I want to leave for them. What form that would be in is I guess up in the air. There’s blogs and pictures and my music collection. Old home movies from when I was a kid. And talking to them. Making a lasting impression just by being there for them.

    • Jess says:

      I haven’t read that yet, but I’m going to add it to my reading list!

      I wish I had kept all my journals from when I was a kid/teen. I also wish I had the patience to keep one now.

      I think my cousin said there was a service in which you can get all your blog posts printed off in a book….that’s pretty rad. Expensive but rad.

  3. chmjr2 says:

    What I wish to do and am working on is to tell the stories of my ancestors. I know the stories will never be complete but it will be better than a blank canvas. I have already learned that part of who I am is because of people who live and died over a hundred years ago.

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