On Time

This afternoon, I fell into the past.  My grandmother’s birthday sparked questions in my mind.  Where, exactly, did her parents come from?  I know my grandfather’s came from Sweden, but I didn’t know about her relatives.  I asked my grandmother herself, but she was a little mixed up and so then I asked my mother.  A few years back, she typed up some family history and gave us all copies, but I couldn’t locate mine.

Until today.  My mom emailed me back which prompted me to go get the box labeled “Family Tree.”  When my dad died in 1989, I gathered all his research into a single box.  I’ve hardly looked at it since.  But today, I sorted through and found immigration documents and baptism certificates and deeds to land and military discharge papers in addition to his handwritten notes about our ancestry.  I found the information my mother gave me in the same box.  (Occasionally, there is a method to my organizational madness.)

I found Ancestry.com and loaded the information I already have into a family tree.  I’m still trying to pinpoint when certain ancestors came to this country–one ancestor was a native American, but the rest came from various parts of Europe, but in the early 1800s or maybe even earlier.  I don’t know yet, but I hope to find out.

My husband came home with frozen pizzas tonight and suggested I go out for a walk in the early-evening sunshine and so I did.  The happy daffodils are blooming everywhere.  The trees are suddenly covered with fuzzy, pastel pink blossoms.  I spotted some lilac embryos when I got close to the Puget Sound.  I thought how temporary all this is–from the weather to the buds on the trees to the houses perched with their views of the Puget Sound.  My relatives lived full lives, experienced heartache and triumph, lived through wars and death, weddings and holidays.  My grandfather missed World War I because of a cataract on one eye.  My other grandfather fought in World War II, though he never told us a thing about it.  Their wives had babies, raised toddlers, fussed over schoolchildren, worried over teenagers, cried over their young adults, rejoiced over grandchildren. 

I wonder about those women in those decades so long ago.  Did they fret over their kitchen floors and yell at the children to wipe their muddy feet?  Did they recognize their individual lives were like drops of water?  Or did they see their lives as rolling waves of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see?  All their worries are gone with them, evaporated.  My worries seem momentary when I realize that spring will transform into summer and summer will fade into fall and then winter will creep into our bones again . . . and time rolls downhill faster and faster like a snowball gaining speed on the mountain.

And yet.  The days have grown longer since Daylight Savings time started.  Now, the children are still outside at 7:00 p.m. playing makeshift games of baseball in the front yard (today with a tennis ball and a stick).  And while I’m thrilled to see my children playing childhood games with neighborhood children, I want the days to end sooner rather than later.  The children have no concept of “dinner-time” and “night-time” and “time-to-go-home-time” while the sun still shines until 7:00 p.m.  (And it will only get worse as summer approaches.)

Time flows, trickles, sometimes seems to go back uphill until suddenly, it rushes so fast it knocks you off your feet.  All you can do is swim with the current and enjoy the view as you float past.

13 thoughts on “On Time

  1. Mel, I keep saying what a wonderful gift you have with words, and this was just beautiful. I have also spent a lot of time researching my family tree, and also use ancestry.com. I also sit and wonder what their lives were like, how they made the decisions to leave all that was familiar and move continents, and what their hopes and fears were. I am lucky as some of the old letters still exist, and I can get a glimpse of who they were, and marvel at the exquisite hand writing too!

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  2. “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16

    Thanks for the great reminder to cherish time while we have it.

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  3. You are a fantastic writer! I wonder about what waves I am putting out there in the ocean sometimes, I just didn’t have such a beautiful way to say it. Thank you for your wonderful posts!

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  4. Lovely post. Time drags on and yet it also rushes by so fast I can’t catch my breath. Thanks for the beautiful word pictures, and for reminding me of lilacs-I grew up LOVING our huge lilac bush out back… but they don’t grow in the state I live in now. 😦

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  5. I too, have often wondered about my ancestors and what their fears, worries, hopes and dreams were…I’m quite sure my great great grandmother wasn’t too worried about her floor…my mother says it was dirt.

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  6. Mel, 7 years ago I had the awsome opportunity to go to Ellis Island. I was able to track both mine and my husbands family and found several ancestors in micro fische log books. It’s fascinating. They have an online version you can use and I highly reccommend it. I’ve also purchased “Family Tree” software which has also been helpful.

    As for DST in the Midwest…I couldn’t be happier that the grey in the sky lifting and specks of blue showing through. It was 76 for us this week and although its back to 40 today, I’m thrilled and inspired to know that spring is closer day by day.

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  7. Nice entry, Mel. My sister (a librarian with an interest in family tree) posted some entries from our grandfather’s old farm journals as a blog . She was inspired to do so after reading the first link below: a blog based on journal entries from a farm wife in Aroostook County in northern Maine.
    In reading some of her entries (the farmwife), it struck me that things haven’t changed when it comes to our hopes for our children. One entry says something like “I wish my children would be better…” : – )
    But seeing journal entries from so many years ago posted as a blog might be of interest to some so I hope you don’t mind me linking.

    http://1892farmwife.blogspot.com/

    http://riverdechutefarmer.wordpress.com/

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  8. That was lovely! Time is a very strange concept sometimes. I always try to tell myself if something will not be an issue 5 years from now, I’m not going to give it too much concern. Someday our children and grandchildren will be thinking back upon us in the same way – weird huh?

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  9. Lovely post. I was hoping you’d follow up on what you’d learned from your grandmother. I got interested in family history when I saw the information my husband’s parents had on their families. Contrasted with how little I knew about my side of the family. Some of my ancestors didn’t move around much, so I was able to trace them back generation by generation just using census documents. I remember staying up into the wee hours and announcing to DH night after night: “I found my grandfather . . .great grandfather,” etc. What fun. I think I need to get back into it. Lots more fun than working on taxes!

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  10. I have quite a collection of our family’s genealogy. My great aunt did lots of genealogy research and she shared it with me a few years ago before she died. I even have quite a few pictures of my relatives, back into the 1800’s.

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  11. I am a total geneaology freak! I love wondering about my ancestors, what they wore, where they worked, how they lived. I’ve gone to addresses that where I know grandparents, great-grandparents etc., have lived and taken pictures – and wonder how they looked 75 years ago. I also keep a daily journal for my posterity – I’m not sure sure anyone wants to know how ticked I am at my husband some times, but hopefully my great-grandchildren will know that love has its ups and downs and you do get through them! LOL! I love reading your blog, it’s like a good book, terrific writing!

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  12. Hey Mel,
    I’ve had a song playing in my head for the last few days, from the musical “Pippin”. It was sung on Broadway and for the soundtrack by “Granny” from the Beverly Hillbillys TV show. In part it goes “oh, it’s time to start livin’, time to take a little from this world we’re given. Time to take time, for spring will turn to fall, in just no time at all”. Watching my “little” boys, now 9 and 12 grow up is really getting to me. My 12-year-old is within an inch of being taller than his mama and is already stronger….
    Happy Spring–we’ve still got a month to go here in MN.

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