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Family Lines

Family Lines

By LEHughes

Perhaps it was because of President's Day. Maybe it was because I'm a history buff (especially American history and personal family history). Whatever the reason, I was recently reading about Abraham Lincoln and my ancestry—not that the two are related.

I enjoy the personal stories I discover. Like finding out that my Scottish great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was friends with the poet Robert Burns. This means nothing now of course; it's just interesting. I don't even like the poems of Robert Burns. That's my shortcoming, I'm sure. It's undoubtedly because since Burns wrote in the Scottish dialect of the 1780's, I only understand about every fifth word.

Another fascinating discovery was learning that there is gold buried on the family farm. They say that my great-great-grandfather buried his gold on his farm in Kouchibouguac, Canada, but he never told anyone where it was. While he lay dying on his bed, he attempted to tell people something important, but they were unable to make out his words. They believe he was trying to tell them where he buried his treasure. Can you imagine the look on their faces when he breathed his last and they realized the secret stayed just that?

The most fascinating discovery was learning how close I came to not being. During my recent trip to the past, I discovered Abraham Lincoln, one of our country's best loved and greatest men, does not have any direct descendants. Three out of four of Abe's children died in childhood and his family line ended in 1985 when his childless great-grandson died. That is very similar to my family history. All six children of my great-great-great-grandmother died, most in childhood, from various diseases—the only saving grace being that one lived long enough to sire a child before she died of Tuberculosis at the age of thirty. My family very narrowly escaped going the way of Lincoln's. Given the almost incomprehensible span of time—the years, the decades, the centuries, the millenniums—it was one fragile, yet successful nine month gestation period—a mere nine months of health out of all that time is the reason I am alive. Also, taking into consideration the incidence of disease, human frailty and my party-hearty younger years, it's a wonder I lived to adulthood. But I did. That makes me pause and realize it's a miracle I'm sitting here writing this. Do you understand what a miracle it is that you are there reading it?

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30 Apr, 2013
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