I’ve been wandering around U.S. Federal Census records again. Because the census is conducted every ten years, a great deal can happen between reports. But it never fails to surprise and sadden me when I find an ancestor has passed away in an intervening decade. It’s part of what causes me to do the genealogical research in fits and starts. Similarly, when I scan family photos into the computer I often begin with excitement, but grow melancholy at the artificially accelerated passage of time. One minute I’m scanning in the photo of a toddler and within a half an hour there they are; holding their own great-grandchild. So I’ve learned to pull back and step away for a little while.
Because of the records searches Chuck and I have been doing, we often look at death and burial records. It’s so interesting where we choose to be buried - or where our families choose to bury us. We start out being born into one nuclear and extended family. Then we grow up, move, marry and find ourselves sometimes very far away from where we started. Then we are sometimes laid to rest among an entirely different group of people than we were born to. It seems as if families are strictly structured genealogically, but factually fluid.
Another thing occurred to me as we were visiting the graves of some relatives. No one engraves their occupation on a headstone. Nor do they note their addresses, their annual salaries or net worth at time of death. All that matters are the relationships: son, daughter, beloved mother, beloved father. In the end, all that matters are the connections, the caring and the love.