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A Lesson in Family History
by Rachel Paxton
01/26/03
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A lesson in family history is as near as your family's cemetery.
Teach your children and grandchildren about those who have come
before them.

Several years ago I attended my grandfather's funeral. Living
into his late eighties, my grandfather had lived a long, eventful
life, first with my father's mother who died after more than 40
years of marriage, and then with his second wife, whom he shared
his life with for more than 20 years until he died. When my
grandfather died, his wife, who is now in a nursing home, forever
said goodbye to her third husband and my grandfather was buried
next to his first wife, the mother of his four children, in the
small farming community where their children had been born and
raised.

When we arrived at the burial site, I didn't at first realize all
of the family history recorded before my very eyes. My aunt, my
father's sister, had lived all of her almost 60 years in this
small community, and she knew the history of each relative buried
there, dating back to the early 1800's. As we walked in between
the grave stones, my aunt told me story after story of the people
who were laid to rest in this quiet peaceful place--grandparents,
great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles. She told me the story
of how my grandmother's mother had died when my grandmother was a
small girl, and how she and her brother had been sent to live
with relatives until their father remarried and they were brought
back to live with his new family. My aunt showed me where my
great grandparents were buried, as well as my great uncle. My
grandmother was buried on the other side of the cemetery,
however, with my grandfather's family--his family had also been
buried there for generations. I got goosebumps as I looked in
awe at all the history before me. My grandfather was buried
right next to my grandmother, where she had been patiently
waiting for him for more than 20 years.

After the burial services we went and visited at the home of my
grandmother's half sister, a great aunt I had never met. My
father's family is a quiet bunch who normally keep to themselves
and their own lives, and I'd never been with so many members of
his family at once. I made a point to take lots of pictures and
later made copies of them to send to his brothers and sister. I
knew in my heart that if I didn't that moment would be lost and
gone forever. They would probably never be together in one place
again.

I left with a small sense of sadness and a great awareness of my
mortality and my duty to preserve my family's memories. I wished
my daughter had been there with me to see what I had seen. She
still does not have a sense of connection to the family members
who have come before her.

My mother's family lives closer to us, and this Memorial Day I
have made the commitment to journey to the small community where
my mother grew up to visit the graves of her family members. Her
sister, my aunt, still lives there and still remembers the
history represented by the solemn grave markers. I will take my
daughter with me this time, and I will talk to her of those who
have come before her. I want her to grow up with a sense of
purpose and a sense of connection to the past so she can more
consciously participate in the future to come, affecting the
lives of those will come after we are gone--those who might visit
our graves and wonder what great things we accomplished during
our lifetimes.

What will people say about you when you're gone? I hope people
will say about me, "She was a loving wife and mother. A source
of strength to all who knew her. May God bless her and give her
peace."

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of
What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick
easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home
decorating, crafts, and frugal family fun, visit Creative
Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and Suite 101 at
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/creative_homemaking. To
subscribe to their monthly newsletter send a blank e-mail message
to FreeRecipes-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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