Today is 31 December 2019. Tomorrow, a new year and a new decade begins. New Years is always a time of reflection, but I find this year weighing on my mind in a different way. I saw a post on Twitter the other day about “the 20’s” and it dawned on me that my own mother was born in the 20’s – but not the 20’s that this person was referring to! And with that, my mind began to contemplate the generations.
I’ve been researching my family genealogy for over 30 years now, but it wasn’t until I had Brendan Bjorn and Declan that it took on a new meaning to me. I do this for them now…well…mainly for Declan. Brendan Bjorn will never have children of his own, which is a fact that is never far from my mind, but especially as I look back over the years of our family tree.
As a carer, I also think that allowing my mind to wander into the past is a form of escape from the daily stressors right in front of me present day. When my back is hurting and I can’t get out of the house with Brendan Bjorn, I can get lost in history. Our history. I can turn it into a gift of heritage for Declan’s future. My parents and grandparents are all long gone. The closest family we have now is in Norway. Being surrounded by a supportive, loving, family is something I had always dreamed of since childhood. It was never to be, though. Today, it is something I strive to give to my sons.
I turned 54 this month and that also gave me more cause to consider my life : past, present and future. Knowing your life is half over (at least) brings an urgency to living. I know all too well how fragile and fleeting life can be, yet I still have days where I’m so emotionally exhausted I think what’s the point of all the struggle. I may not have the answers to that question, but all I have to do is look back over my family tree and see the generations who came before me and who, had they not existed, I wouldn’t be sitting here now writing this blog about my own life. There’s a profoundness in that knowledge that I think needs to be honoured and remembered with some reverence…
If it wasn’t for a Viking called Ragnvald Eysteinsson having a son called Gange-Hrólfr “Rollo” Ragnvaldsson over a millennia ago, I wouldn’t be here.
If it wasn’t for Henry FitzHugh, 3rd baron of Ravensworth in Yorkshire, having a daughter called Eleanor in 1397, I wouldn’t be here.
If it wasn’t for Phillippe Daniel Kellogg marrying a woman called Annis and having a son called Martyn in 1595, I wouldn’t be here.
If it wasn’t for Ole Jonsen Nygårdshagen and his wife Mari Guttormsdatter Nygaarden having a son they named Guttorm in 1770, I wouldn’t be here.
If it wasn’t for Mae Bjørneby having a daughter named Joan in “the 20’s” as mentioned above, I wouldn’t be here.
And if I wasn’t here, neither would Brendan Bjorn and Declan be here.
Now that is something to really think about, isn’t it?
For this new year, this new decade, I hope the past can lend strength to today while bringing us smoothly into the future. We may only travel this journey one day at a time, but before you know it, a millennia of history has been written. May we all do what we can to make it the best future possible and worthy of our ancestor’s gift of life.