As the saying goes,
“Every family tree produces some lemons, some nuts and a few bad apples.”
Lest you misunderstand me, I love my family and am proud of them. They represent immigrant families who came to America with nothing — and settled and made a life and a name for themselves. We have farmers, doctors, bankers, teachers, artists, chemists — a whole university full of professions! Some served in the military; some were pacifists. Some were teetotalers and wore those Women’s Christian Temperance Union ribbons proudly. Others made wine “for medicinal purposes” (of course). It’s a remarkable experience to trace your lineage back through the generations. (And major MAJOR thanks to my mom, sister and other relatives who did all of the dirty work on this!)
With the information my mom and sister sent me, I spent most of today reconstructing a genogram for my CPE class. A genogram is basically a family tree, but you add enough information on your family to see patterns and systems that are uniquely your own. For instance, my family has breast cancer recurring on my mom’s side. There’s also diabetes, cataracts, and myopia. There are troubled marriages, children who died in infancy, and all manner of rascals. But they are all mine!
As I traced my family history, I began thinking about grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins and various other relatives who had not crossed my mind in (honestly) years. I thought about family events, both happy and sad. And I saw the strength that comes from weathering the storms that every family faces — together.
Yes, there are shadows. As a family, we’ve lost children, buried parents, aunts, uncles, cousins… and found joy in living. I’d say that’s a pretty amazing God gift.