Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reading Tombstone Stories ~ Start Them Young

I took time to take two of our grandchildren to see the burial locations of many of Tombstonetheir ancestors this week. While both of them had an enjoyable day, the younger of the two caught the spirit of genealogy during our walking tour.

When I started to tell the stories about our ancestor buried in the first grave we visited, he was impatient to leave but story captured his imagination. Soon, he begged to find the next grave and hear more stories.

The rest of the trip was spent following the young man from headstone to headstone. He is too young to read but wanted to hear their stories. He delighted in the shapes and designs of the markers.

I asked if the boys wanted to go home. The older one did but the younger one begged to stay and explore longer. He was enthralled with the fact that others lived lives before his entrance to this sphere. He often exclaimed, "I didn't know that!". "Was their family happy?" "Did they cry when their baby died?" "What was his / her parents names?"

Since returning home he tells our ancestral stories anyone who will listen. He raves about visiting cemeteries and the stories found on headstones. At least for today, he said he would rather go exploring cemeteries than visit an amusement park.

I remember feeling the same way when I was his age. The stories about my ancestors fascinated me. Proving they were real was even more enjoyable. Baseball, basketball, hiking and hunting were a lot of fun, but given the choice between them and perusing the shelves and file drawers in a musty old library, the choice always fell on the research side of the line.

Most of us have an interest in who we are and where we came from. Some of us choose that research instinctively, while the others need a little more encouragement in the 'right' circumstance of life. In my case, I try to give our grandchildren the opportunity to explore their interest in their ancestors by involving them in all aspects of the research process. Some of them love the research, others are more inclined to play ball. Both reactions are OK. It's their life. They need to enjoy their pursuits as much as possible at this stage of life. I can't explain the 'new' math to them (can anyone from my generation?) but I can give them the correct answers. However, when they ask about genealogical research, they've asked the right person. We enjoy playing ball but we thrill in finding that 'lost' document that proves the life our our "lost" ancestor.

Is it any different in your own families? Are your children and grandchildren divided in their interest in people from days gone by? Do some of them delight in research trips to cemeteries and musty old libraries too? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree does it?