Generation Gone….Inevitable Genealogy Transitions
Gen X, Generation Y, Millennials, the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, etc. We genealogy fans have heard, and continue to hear, these generational nicknames quite frequently.
Unfortunately our family tree has just added a new one.
I’ve taken to calling it Generation Gone.
It’s been happening for quite some time and, silly me, I spent too much time simply thinking it wouldn’t, couldn’t, actually happen. But naturally it did.
Let me explain.
Just a few days ago I received a call telling me the last member of the eldest generation in our branch of the family passed away. It was my Aunt Dorothy and this was sad news indeed.
In just the past 9 years my wife and I have lost all four of our parents and now on the branches of my side of the family tree all of the aunts and uncles from that generation are gone, except in our memories.
I always knew it could happen quickly. After all when my wife and I excitedly announced the fact that we were expecting our first child we were blessed to be able to share this news with four of our grandparents. By the time our son was born, we were able to share that news with only one.
Now as I look at our family tree it has taken on an entirely different look. One that reminds me of the trees in our yard in autumn as they change color and then go bare in just a few short days.
Suddenly our generation is at the ‘tip’ of the tree. No more parents. No more aunts. No more uncles. So much has been lost. So many stories, memories, names, and more.
One of the stark reminders I have is that now I am among the only – the very last – members of my family who will have ever heard Czech being spoken in our home. After me this will become only a ‘story’ others will have heard. Perhaps it will simply be written off as a family legend, myth, or worse yet forgotten!
While this news of the loss of my last aunt was depressing, it did have one positive effect. It rekindled and ignited the embers and passion surrounding my love of genealogy into a roaring blaze again. I want to lose no more stories. I do not want to lose any connections with cousins – no matter if they are 1st or 5th! I want to document, document, document every tiny shred of information, data, story, and memory I can on our family and preserve it for all who will come after me.
I want our children and our grandchildren to know Aunt Dorothy almost as well as I did, even if it is just though photographs and a family tree. I want them to know and meet her sons, their wives, and children so they know who I spent time in my youth with and who their cousins are!
I know this will not happen automatically nor without effort. I well remember growing up and having frequent and wonderful family gatherings at our home. My mom was the driving force behind these gatherings and she put much effort, time, and devotion into seeing them occur. Holidays, birthdays, and sometimes just weekends, but always family gathering to be together. When we moved from our hometown several states away these family gatherings stopped. It seemed my mom was some kind of special ‘glue’ that was holding the extended family together.
I will be that glue now!
I will curse the darkness and light the lamps of family history through my genealogy for all our family to see, be guided by, and to mark the path to gatherings of the family! We have started already with our Thanksgiving holiday gathering bringing together family from far and wide to join us at our table. So far so good I can report!
God bless you and rest in peace, Aunt Dorothy.