Recent events have had me thinking more and more about mortality - mine and members of my family. Though I would not be considered old (46) by many, I'm wise enough to realize that time is a precious commodity and we're not guaranteed another moment on this Earth.
So what does this have to do with genealogy and family history? Well, quite a bit, actually. All of us are mortal. Genealogists deal constantly with facts such as births and deaths, and this blog is my attempt to beat the clock by sharing my research not only with the living, but the future unborn members of my family who might be interested. So far this blog has been long on dates and facts and short on personal insight, but hopefully in 2015 that can change. A New Year's Resolution? Perhaps, but we shall see.
One thing I've noted throughout the time I've been collecting information on my family history is that some of my ancestors and relatives died what would be considered a pretty early death. For every one that made it into their eighties and beyond, there were two or three who died in their fifties and sixties, some even earlier. Approaching the age where one of your immediate relatives passed makes you start thinking about your own mortality and legacy and what you are leaving behind. It also makes you start looking at your lifestyle choices and health.
Yesterday, I had an echo cardiogram. I feel too young to have a cardiologist, but two years ago my GP detected a slight murmur and I had a baseline echo to check it out. Insurance would only pay for an echo every two years since I'm not symptomatic, so yesterday's procedure will be the first look after my baseline echo from two years ago to see if the condition has become any worse. I'm not too worried about it, but from a family history standpoint, I can see cause for concern. My maternal grandfather had a history of heart murmurs that kept him from becoming a pilot during WWII, and he died at the age of 53 of a heart attack. Not too much older than I am right now. Granted, he was a smoker, and I'm not, but I'm not going to ignore the genetic potential to have a predisposition to heart problems. In this same family line there has been a history of early death (some as young as 45) due to heart issues. Fortunately, a call today from the doctor let me know that everything appears to be about the same and their is no cause for alarm.
On Sunday, while returning from a shopping trip, the vehicle we were in had a blow-out. Fortunately, my son-in-law, Jordan, was able to keep us from having an accident and managed to pull off to the side of the Interstate. I kept watch for oncoming traffic while he worked on changing the tire. Believe me, you get a different perspective on folks who have car trouble when it happens to you and you're standing there watching as cars whiz by. So many of them didn't even pay attention that we had hazard lights flashing, etc. The adrenaline was pumping that day! The only consolation had either of us been struck would have been that death would have been quick. I've come across a few of those tragic accidents in my family history to know that when they do occur, they devastate the families and leave gaping holes. While I know that no matter when I go I will leave things undone on this Earth, there are too many family history projects I want to complete and stories I want to pass down.
Yesterday was also the day I paid a visit to the funeral home to pay respect to my high school friend's mother. We're at that age where our parents are beginning to pass, or at least slow down. Standing in line, I was talking with the parents of another high school friend, sharing memories of days gone by. The whole time talking to them I was thinking, I wonder whose funeral I will be at next? My parents? A classmates? What if it was mine?
There are people in my extended family that I need to interview to get the "official story" from their perspective before they pass. There are facts about my own life that I haven't written down and I hope to do this year. There are so many files that I need to scan and blog about that I haven't done in the eight years I've worked on this blog. Sometimes I find it hard to write, but I need to make a commitment to get it down on paper. If not for me, for those who will come after.