I have an obsession. It is family history. Jack tells me I'm the youngest person he knows who does family history. I don't care, I just love it. (for those of you who don't quite know what doing family history includes, here's a link http://www.mormon.org/values/family-history, and you can start your search on the church's site familysearch.org).
I've always had this weird thing about the past, like I feel I belonged there instead of here. A couple of months ago I started actively filling in names and researching on familysearch.com to make sure my ancestors' work was being done. My dad's family actually has tons of accounts on a website dedicated to his home town, Grouse Creek (which is in the northwest corner of Utah), and I have spent hours and hours reading every ancestor's story on the website. My mom gave me a huge box filled with generational sheets, photos, and stories from her side of the family. For the past few months I've really dived in and become immersed in the histories of my family. I've even found a few names who need temple work done.
It has been quite an emotional experience for me too. I have become quite preoccupied with how my ancestors died. Not in a morbid way, but I always have to know if it is something that could have been prevented today with our medical advancements and technology. Every name I come across I have to check the years to make sure they didn't die young. If they did I have to dig into my documents or search further online to find the circumstances around their death. I have been shocked at how many babies were lost in infancy and how many mothers died due to complications of childbirth. I came across my 5th great-grandparents who had 22 children together, 13 of which died as babies! I made mention to Jack early on that maybe because death was so commonplace back then that it wasn't as devastating as it would be now to lose a child or a spouse because it was almost expected then. This thought really saddened me, which was why I started looking more into it. I was very wrong. Every time I was able to find the history and stories from someone who had lost a baby or spouse, even when the history was a short outline or summary, it mentioned the loss of the young family member and the grief that the family experienced at that time. I believe it was just as hard for them to lose every baby or child they did as it would be for us. Which has illustrated so much for me the faith and fortitude these people had. Their trust in God and His eternal plan is astounding. I'm so excited to be able to meet some of these family members whom I have read so much about and have so much respect for. I have also been able to request the patriarchal blessing from the Church's archives for some of my ancestors and that has been a really neat experience as well.
A crazy thing has happened as I have gotten more into their histories as well. I have been more grateful to be living in the generation that I do. Grateful for our technology, our culture, and today's living prophet. In reading about those who came before me and made my life possible, I'm so thankful to be when and where I am.
I've thought about sharing a couple of stories for some family members here on my blog. Partly so I have another outlet to share the stories other than poor Jack, and partly so I can remember them and my girls can read them someday without having to dig through and piece together things from the old papers I have. So if in the future I do posts about random people who have passed away, that's why.