THE STORY TELLERS
We are the chosen. My feelings are, in each family there is one who seems
called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them
live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know, and
approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but,
instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story
tellers of the tribe.
All tribes have one. We have been called as it were, by our genes. Those
who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding
them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now
and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you
have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I
walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot
say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do
I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever
to weeds and indifference and saying I can’t let this happen. The bones
here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something
about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their
hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness
to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they
fought to make and keep us a Nation.
It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.
That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we
are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my
family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the
call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That, is
why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to
step up and put flesh on the bones.
Author: Della M. Cummings Wright; re-written by her granddaughter, Della JoAnn McGinnis Johnson