Confessions of an Aging Genealogist
Social media is a double-edged sword. I think we could all agree on that, right? I belong to several genealogy-related Facebook groups. When set in front of a keyboard, people can become pretty mean. I confess, that “mean girl” has been me on a night when I’m tired and maybe I should have gone to bed instead of logged on or I’ve had a really rough day and it all comes tumbling out in words after someone says something I don’t agree with online. I regret those times. Tonight in one of my Facebook groups a woman posted that she was angry that someone had “stolen” the family photographs she had put on her Ancestry tree. This is not an uncommon sentiment. Others were angry that someone had stolen their entire tree or taken copies of their research and offered none in return.
So, now my confession. I was that person once. My cousin Rick and his daughter had asked me for all my research. It just hit me wrong that day and also I was thinking of all the boxes and boxes of stuff I would have to copy to give him “all” of it. I’m not making excuses for myself. I should have said yes but instead I said no. Life is not lived without some regrets, no matter how hard we try. There have been many times I chastised myself and meant to at least mail him what I could find on that particular day but life happens and I never sent that package to him. That’s on me.
Rick and Stephanie Drake above. I couldn’t find the charger for my old computer that has all my years and years of digital photos so I “stole” one of Rick’s. I hope he’ll forgive me…again. But if he wants it removed, it’ll be gone in a heartbeat.
After I recovered from whatever bad day I was having that day, I thought about it and changed my stance. That’s how you ended up with this blog with all these stories. I didn’t give him what he asked for and I couldn’t make up for that so I decided to give him – to give all of you – something better. Something that would stick around long-term for my daughter and grandchildren too if they were ever to become interested. I decided to give you the stories that go with the documents and research. Those stories seemed so easily lost and I love to tell stories. Besides, Rick’s wife, Stephanie, had already started an Ancestry tree so she would have access to much of what I already had without me copying and sending it so the blog was the answer for me. This blog – each and every post – is, in some small way, penance for an ungrateful stance I took on one day of my life to someone I should have been gracious to. Each and every post is also a gift- to people I know and people I will never know. So many people shared their information with me for me to get where I am today with the family history. Passing that on is the only right thing to do.
So, back to the woman who posted that she was angry. She happened to share that post on a group that was created for sharing genealogy research and skills with each other. A group who’s skills she had used before- with a document that had been given to her by someone else. Oh, the irony! She got hit pretty hard in the comments section. I hope that one day she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and realizes that sharing has so many benefits- not the least of which is that it keeps your research alive for future generations. Why am I spending all these years researching if not to share it and keep it alive? Back when Rick first asked me to share, I intended to write a book. That was one thought going through my mind in addition to the others. About a year ago my daughter looked at me and said, “You’re never going to write that book, are you mom? You’re just going to blog forever.” And it hit me. This blog? This blog IS my book. Written in increments of time that I have available to me. Written with the greater purpose in mind of encouraging (and sometimes warning) the generations that will come along after me (and even the ones that are living life alongside me right now). Written in an ancient spirit of sharing and bettering the world. (And I do hope that somehow I’m bettering the world. At least, I’m bettering myself by sharing.)
So there you have my confession. I’ve been her- “the lady that refused to share”. My husband’s Uncle Bob was one of the ones who gave me “the talk” about sharing and why we do what we do. I’m glad he did. I hope Karma is merciful when it comes back around to me. And I’m glad I’m not “that person” anymore. Family – I love you guys. Think carefully about the decisions you make. And if someone cares about you enough to have “the talk” with you (about anything) – listen!! Listening is free. I’m going to leave you with the Bible verse I’ve chosen for this year’s Cousin Camp for my grandsons, take it to heart.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Be kind and encouraging today. Love and peace,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives