Saturday, February 4, 2012

Climbing the Family Tree

Family Tree here
I've been reading some family histories my mother gave me for Christmas and marveling at the ancestors that made me. I've heard most of the stories before; I grew up on them. But reading them now when I've experienced so much more of life, I appreciate what the stories mean more than I ever did before. For example, my great-grandmother Christina Marie Sorensen Anderson (Steena for short) was widowed when she was just forty-seven years old. She'd given birth to eleven children and also raised two other neighbor boys whose extended family refused to take them in when their parents died. She only had a few weeks of education and so when she was left to care for the family, she did the only thing she could, she farmed to keep them all alive and in her spare time was midwife to most of the women in the area. She lived a widow for forty-nine years, and I remember her making the most delicious cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted in her big, black, coal burning stove.

Her seven daughters have been my idols all my life. They were strong women--all of them either nurses or school teachers who each faced incredible adversity and tribulation with courage and strength. It makes me proud and has inspired me knowing that I am an "Anderson Woman." One of these Anderson Women was my grandmother, the oldest of the sisters and a school teacher who served a mission in Hawaii, who died when my mother was sixteen so I never knew her, but her influence has been with me every day of my life.

Reading these histories has warmed me, and it can warm you. It seems that sometimes we feel so alone in life. Discouragement sets in, dull winter days erode the joy, and life feels empty. At those times one of the best things you can do is remember the stories of those who have gone before you. Everyone has someone a generation or two back who inspires courage and motivates to be better. If you haven't found that person or persons on your family tree, start searching. I guarantee you they are there, and when you find their story and savor it, you will feel of their spirit walking beside you every day bouying you up and urging you on through the cold Januaries of life.

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