I hope that it eased the transition to know that I also cherish what we know about our ancestors. I've said it many times here before, any work I do in the arena of genealogy is done while standing tall on her shoulders... figuratively, of course because otherwise that would be elder abuse;) (Mom likes that joke.) There is, for all of her work, a built in succession plan, and she's trained this pip-squeak of a successor well, but I still have so much to learn from her.
Before I went to see her recently to celebrate her 96th birthday, she said quite a few times that she was retiring from genealogy. I guess I was reluctant to believe it, or maybe I didn't want to. But when I arrived I could see that she was serious. The binders were put away and the computer untouched. It made me sad. Yeah, I could see that she meant what she said about retiring.
But then I thought about it all and finally put it in perspective: Mom can rest, knowing she's made a real contribution. Cousin Rich had told me that Mom has built a tree that links together many, many families in the Morgan and Hampshire Counties of West Virginia, especially in the mid-1800s. It's landmark work, nothing as comprehensive out there, he indicated. I have seen for myself how important her work is and continues to be due to the numerous people who have contacted me because of her tree on Ancestry. You know her tree: Virginia Williams Kelly's Big Tree, the one with almost 70,000 people on it.
I asked Mom if I could "borrow" one of her books and she said, "Take what you want. I'm done with it." So I carefully went up to her room and started browsing to determine what I wanted. But I was melancholy doing it, I can tell you.
It marks the end of an era. I can easily remember the days when we were back and forth burning up the internet and the phone lines with what we'd found and comparing notes. By the time I got going on my own projects Mom was no longer making trips to court houses and libraries, so she'd slowed a bit already. For her to continue to slow was a natural progression.
Mom and I had a nice talk about it, in a round about sort of way. We both agreed that life events can sometimes limit our activities, and when that happens we need to get over ourselves as quickly as possible and start looking for a way to grow. Both she and I knew it was true from personal experience and chatted about ways in which events in our own lives had come to curtail certain activities. We concluded that it's our own individual responsibility to discover what's left that gives us joy and brings meaning. Life's never a static event, that's for sure!
As I got a bunch of her binders ready to take to the pack-and-ship place I saw it as the formal passing of the baton. I feel the responsibility to honor her work in the best ways that I can. It's a duty that I embrace, joyfully. I already have my inheritance and it's more valuable than a pot of gold!
I got sad, and now I'm glad. Thanks a million, Mom!
The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/08/mom-has-officially-retired-from-active.html