Friday, May 25, 2007

Letters, graduation and paths, oh my!

My oldest daughter has graduated from highschool. Finally. I don't say that because she was a problem child or I was ever worried about her not graduating. In fact, her highschool career was much more stellar than mine. She graduated with NHS cords and she received all sorts of awards and pins for her participation in choir, band and theatre. It's just that the last two months of their senior year is filled with one banquet, ceremony, performance, dinner, dance after another, that by the time it's over, the parents are exhausted. At least, I am. Not to mention considerably poorer.
So this morning I sat down to my computer to try and catch up on stuff (okay, I admit, I didn't realize it was Friday until about ten minutes ago) and read my e-mail. I love getting letters from readers. They can be filled with all sorts of things, from wonderful praise to not so wonderful criticism. I've had people tell me their life story, and some just write one line. "Keep writing." I'm always thrilled to see people explain to me how they came upon my books. I always find that so interesting. I've had some very touching letters that just stick with me forever.
One thing I didn't really think of when I set up the website, was people writing to me about their family tree. What an unexpected JOY! Being a genealogist, I'm always happy to hear about other people's journey into genealogy and what they discover. A few people have written asking my advice about where to look for a specific record, and others just share their own stories and findings. And occasionally, somebody writes and says . . . "I think we might be related." Which is always cool. Turns out, we usually are.
The internet has really helped genealogy, but it has it's bad side, too. For example, anybody can write anything they want about their family tree, and it's there for everybody to see as long as they keep it up, whether it's true or not. You have to be careful, ask for the original source or documents, before you use anything you find on the internet. At the same time, I've found new photographs of ancestors, I never knew existed, because somebody thought to put it up on their website. Or, they've e-mailed the photographs to me. Genealogists really are a generous lot. Most will share anything they have with you. For one thing, you want the truth out there, so if you share your documentation, the more likely the truth about a family tree will prevail, instead of the false information.
At any rate, I started tracing my family tree,about three or four months after I graduated from highschool and look at the profound impact it's had on my life. I can't help but wonder what my daughter will discover in the next year that will be with her until she's an old lady! Sometimes I think it's the years between 18 and 22 that make the biggest impression on a person, not the first five years or those middle teen years. I wish that all 18 to 22 year olds could find something like genealogy to help shape them. I would be such a different person if I'd never walked down the genealogy path.
Happy reading!
Rett MacPherson


Camille Minichino said...

How lucky your children are ... they won't have to be looking at photos wondering WHO? WHEN? You're leaving them so much to start with.

Anonymous said...

this is a test!
I'm trying to discern whether we can still post anonymously since friends are having trouble getting in.