Sunday, June 24, 2007

Five Generations

Agnes and I just returned this morning from a visit to my oldest son and his family in Ohio, where he hosted a mini-family reunion. My younger son flew in from Los Angeles, and my sister and her family drove over from Pennsylvania and brought my father so that he could see his newest great-grandchild.

Naturally, a few photos were taken...enough that we all had to wear sunblock to protect from the flashes. One of the photos Agnes shot was a Four Generations picture of my father, myself, my two sons, and the two male grandchildren:

From left to right in the back row: my son Jason; Jason's son Noah, held by my son Matt; myself, and my father. In the front row is Jason's son Joe.

I think this is a great picture. But my sister also brought along a huge bag of loose photos she'd collected from drawers at home, and found this one:

This picture, shot in August of 1974, shows a very, very young-looking (some might say, 'geeky') Bilbo, my paternal grandmother, and my very young-looking father holding my son Jason - age three months...yes, the same Jason on the left of the other photo with two of his three children.

Thirty-two years separate those two photographs, which document five generations of the family. Time flies. And it's important to remember what has gone before so that we have the history and the stories to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Someday these photos will be pulled out of drawers or called up on computer screens to show to new generations of the family...people to whom we in those photos may be only dimly-remembered memories. But it's important to keep those memories, so that we always know where we came from, and can keep a connection to those who have gone before.

I have always regretted that I didn't take more of an interest in family history sooner, but I'm frantically trying to make up for lost time now. Someday Marcy and Joe and Noah will grin for photographs holding their children, and great-grandpa Bilbo may not be around to pose with them. But I want them to know who I was, and who their ancestors were, as we continue through the generations yet to come.

History is made by people who lived, laughed, cried, tried, failed, and pressed on to make the best world they knew how for their children. We owe it to those children to protect and preserve the story so they can ground themselves in time.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


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