Sunday, July 24, 2016

Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story?

I wonder sometimes what my ancestors thought when they rolled into this valley. Did they see this desolate landscape and just go let's just keep going? Or did they just lay back and look at the sky and mountains and go Okay I'm alive for one more day. Let's see what we can create? 

I'll never know because no one thought to write it down. So I can only guess and put my perspective on it. However isn't that what history is? Someone's perspective? 

Today in Church we had a high counsel man humble brag about his long and stoic pioneer ancestors and while he read from his great great great grandfather's journals I found myself drifting off. Perhaps it was the heat (the A/C comped out) or was it just the same story I've heard all my life? 

As we peeled ourselves off the pews and headed towards Sunday school (unfortunately taught by the same thrilling speaker)he began again talking about his family heritage when a hand shot up and the oldest ward member raised herself up and said "You focus so much on the male side of the story but what about your great grandmothers? Their daughters? Without them you wouldn't be standing here telling this story. I'm sick of hearing about the men. Tell me boy what did your great great grandmother do for you?" I have to admit my first thought went to oh snap! The look on his face was priceless. While I don't love to see people squirm in public it raised a fair question. What have your great grandmothers done to your family narrative? 
I took out my notebook and wrote "Without the example of my Grandma Dar I would not be the person I am today. Grandma taught me to use your creativity in order to enrich your life." 

What I've learned the most from my grandmothers and my great mothers is to make time for things that explore your creativity and allows you to create something that is just for you. I have at this moment in my apartment pieces of art created by my grandmother, great grandmother, and my great great grandmothers. All were great accomplished needleworkers, quilters, and cooks. One might argue that all of those skills were necessary in order to survive in reality it those pieces that have been passed on to generation to generation. My grandma Dar once told me that she would lock herself in the bathroom late at night to finish a piece of needlework because she had to see it in the physical state. Or my Great Grandma Esther learning to tat by the older girls on the play ground and taking pieces of string she found and constantly worked on it till she had it right. My great great grandmother quilting late at night during the depression using bits of flour sacks and left over pieces fabric to make quilts in order to keep her family warm during the cold Utah winters. 

Creativity may not be as braggable as the aspects of the high counsel man's great great great grandfather's journal but in reality it is the thing that gets passed on to each generation. It allows us to have original thoughts and say I'm doing this for me. I see it in my sister who works hard in being the best Ironman (woman) she can be. I see it in my Grandpa who took a risk and started a very successful jewelry store. I guess what I'm trying to say is that of all of the traits my pioneer ancestors gave me I'm grateful for the gift of not seeing things for what they are but the way things can be. 

Perhaps that's better than saying my ancestors sang as they walked and walked. 

But that just me. 


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