Thursday, March 25, 2010

Genealogical hazards

I've been on a genealogy kick for quite a while, and I've managed to find a ton of info on my mother's side of the family. Some of these lines go all the way back to England, well before the pilgrims came to America (and I found a few ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. Coolness!). History junkie that I am, I've taken to this task with understandable enthusiasm. It's fun!

My biological father's family has always been something of a mystery to me. He's, to put it mildly, a bit of an unsavory character and has spent most of his life in prison. I knew next to nothing about his biological parents, as he was adopted by other family members as a child. Weeks of digging and research on yielded some leads, so I followed them, ending up in contact with a few truly delightful blood relatives on this side who are helping me fill in the genealogical gaps.

Yet, I'm finding this branch of the family has more than its fair share of closeted skeletons, things I wasn't prepared to learn about, and I'm sure there's more to come. It makes me wonder how I could descend from people who are capable of the things about which I'm learning. And, quite honestly, it's very depressing. Whether I want to admit it or not, this is where I come from.

So I'm choosing to take an objective approach to the not-so-nice stuff and focus my energies and enthusiasm on the bright spots, like those relatives I've discovered who are as thrilled about a relationship with me as I am about a relationship with them. Thankfully, they're far removed from the unpleasantness I've discovered and would rather focus on the positives as well. After all, you can't choose your ancestors, but you can choose how you allow their stories to affect you.

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