Friday, February 20, 2015

Boy, Those Ancestors!

After months of painstaking research, my sister Elizabeth finally found the name of the ship our grandfather came to this country on from Sweden almost ninety years ago. The whole family was behind her as she researched names, dates and places that our ancestors had attached themselves to. She was even able to post pictures that she’d requested from yet other relatives. It was astounding to see the family resemblance in those old black and white photos where folks must have been told "now don't smile!" This got me thinking . . .

Of all the things my ancestors didn’t have; insurance of any kind, appliances, electricity (my maternal grandparents didn’t have electricity until the 1950’s) and countless other modern conveniences that we think we need or deserve. And yet they survived and even thrived. That same maternal grandmother bore six live children and with the exception of my youngest aunt, they were all born at home. How on earth did these people make it? I have to laugh when I compare the years in which we’ve lived.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love modern life. I mean, after all, I’m writing about all this on a computer, a contraption my grandparents wouldn’t have had a clue could even exist. I can keep in touch with family just by going on Facebook or Skype. But harkening back to the brave souls who lived their lives trusting God and each other that things would work out makes me realize my own frustrations are nothing, like gnats on a banana or something. So here’s what I’ve resolved to do.

Keep my chin up. Nobody likes seeing a down-in-the-dumps face all the time. Where I can give cheer, I will. Where I can cut down on consumption, I will. Where I can pass up   a bargain, I … okay, okay that’s going a bit far. But at every turn where I start to feel weak and whiney, I’ll think of my dad’s Mom, who came over from Sweden quite young on a ship to a country where she couldn’t speak the language. She had no money and probably only one good dress. I’ll think of my mom’s Mom, who spent countless hours in her sweltering rural Minnesota farm kitchen canning vegetables from her garden every summer so her family would have food all winter. Both of these women woke up every morning with a list of chores as long as my granddaughter’s licorice whip, and I’ll be darned if I’ll complain. After all, I can plop my dishes into my dishwasher and drive off to Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon and then have lunch out.

We can all look at those who have gone before us and gain from them a sense of what  makes life good. It’s taking care of your own and giving them as good as you got. My husband is semi-retired and I work three part time jobs so we can get the bills paid every month. This would be nothing to my grandparents and great grandparent's generation. Part of the good life is the hardness of it. Good grief, how could we rise to the challenge if there were none? We give our children so much when we share with them our struggle stories, the ones that let them know you can get through hard times and come up okay on the other side. And in time they'll add tales of their own to help forge a unique family heritage. I thank my sister, who is 16 years younger than me, for caring enough to delve into our ancestral archives to find little golden bits of our past. She'll be in the family story book for sure.  

Image: Free Digital Photos


  1. Susan this post brought back nemories. It is such a different world. Have fun with that concert; )

    1. Hi, Linda. Glad to provide a memory prod! =0)