There are times in our lives when we wake and a realization comes to us that we hurt all over or that we can’t remember the name of a common object. We quickly determine that we need to take a pill of one kind or another as a remedy for our maladies. Within minutes, we’ve swallowed the pill and have moved on with our day. It’s usually just that easy.
That thought crossed my mind today while I was writing the history of one of my ancient ancestors who died at a relatively young age after a decade of misery due to a variety of ailments.
What did our ancient ancestors do for the pains, maladies and health misfortunes in their lives? They certainly had herbs and treatments that helped or at least created the illusion of assistance, but most of the time they had to bear their misery in whatever manner their constitution allowed.
I’ve reached the age when a minor procedure isn’t that uncommon. The procedures are miracles in truth because in almost every case the issue they fixed would have been terminal back in the days of the ancients.
When I find records that show that an ancient lived a relatively long life, I look at them with a jaundiced eye. One of my second great grandfathers lived to be ninety-six. I know the number to be correct because I’ve verified it with numerous sources including a cross country trip to read the inscription on his tombstone.
It is much harder to verify the age at death of our ancient ancestors. Their life chroniclers note that they were “old”, “ancient of days” or “achieved that rare age”. Of course these connotations are relative to the lifespan of that time.
Several of my grandchildren noted how “old” I am when they visited today. I looked at them with a furrowed brow because I don’t think I’m very old. I’m just getting started in seniorhood. Why would they say that? Could it be the silver hair and day-of-the-week pill strip? Could it be the giggles that escape their lips as I try to climb to my feet after sitting on the floor to play a game with them? Nah. It must be just their perception of age relative to their short lives.
How did my ancient ancestors accomplish so much in their relatively short lives? Granted, the only reason I know their names is because they were royalty of one type or another, otherwise, nothing would have been recorded about them. Sometimes their stories are brief and other times they are fairly long. The more ‘rotten’ they were in their actions, the greater the collection of facts exist about them. Do we cheer them for the misdeeds in their lives because they resulted in a paper trail that has bridged the centuries? I don’t support their misanthropic activities but yes, I do cheer that records exist about them.
From time-to-time I cheer for the goodness exhibited by an ancestor. They are typically my female ancestors but sometimes the men conducted their lives better than the norm for the time and their station in life. Some of the ladies were pure saints; not from the biblical or religious perspective but certainly from the way they conducted their lives.
We find ourselves talking to our computer monitors saying, “Way to go grandma or grandpa!” We have smiles on our faces when we uncover yet another positive nugget from their lives. We groan when we read of the misdeeds hoping that a lot if not all of them were committed due to a lack of knowledge or common sense training and not because they were just part of their character. We growl out loud when it is grandma who “went south” in their life. “How could you!” “Ohhh, Man!”
What stories will we leave for our descendants? Will any written life record survive across the ages? Will a digital record survive or will it be lost in the petabytes of data that is generated daily? Are we living a life in the eye of the public or are we just one of the cast of ‘normal’ folks who live remarkable yet little reported lives that aren’t noted as being extraordinary?
We all need to record our own stories and be sure that we’ve shared them enough that they have a chance of surviving the decades and centuries ahead. Hopefully, most if not all of our descendants will be in the “Way to Go” camp rather than on the “Awwww … phooey” side of the fence when they read our stories.
They won’t cheer or groan if we don’t record our stories though. Whatever the stories are they will make us real in the minds of our descendants. They will always be happy to be able to put our stories with our names. We will be real to them, not just a name and a date.
Is the title of this post misleading? It’s all relative. I’m hoping that those reading this missive eventually will be able to call me their ‘ancient’ ancestor. How do my stories relate to you my descendants? Do they depict me on the good or on the bad side of the scale?
Posted 13 Dec 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog