Learning about our ancestors can be a really moving experience. I've watched a few clips of the PBS genealogy series Finding Your Roots, including this one about Dustin Hoffman. The people who are discovering their family history are often moved to tears as they learn about the struggles and challenges their forebears have endured.
As I get older, I'm further and further removed from the days when I used to visit my own grandparents. I have many fond memories of both my maternal and my paternal grandparents. Trips to stay overnight with them. Sunday dinners. Homemade ice cream. Many fun experiences. Sadly, all have them have been gone for quite some time at this point. A couple years ago, Parker and I were working on his genealogy merit badge. One of the requirements had us attend a family history resource center run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We searched for information about my grandpa, Roy Lind. Among a few other things, we were able to pull up the recently-made-public 1940 census. As we looked at the image of this document, we were able to see information about him. He was 25 years old in 1940. He was married with two children (one is an uncle that I know well, the other is an aunt who passed away long before I was born). It showed that he completed the 8th grade and was currently working as a truck driver for Feed and Seed Stones (or something like that. The handwriting was a bit hard to read.) It was his first year on the job, he was working about 48 hours a week and his annual income was $1,960. What a treasure to be able to see all of this. It suddenly made his life so much more real to me. He wasn't just the retired old man I had known. He had once been a young man, working hard to feed his family. I shed a few tears as I looked over that census page.
Recently I have started working out on a pretty regular basis. We have an elliptical machine that I exercise on while watching Netflix. Last week I finished a series and was looking for something new to watch. Based on the detective series I often enjoy, Netflix suggested the series Columbo for me. I've started watching it, and it's really quite entertaining. It originally aired in the late 60's and early 70's. Perhaps my favorite thing about the show is that I remember my Grandma Lind talking about it when I was a young child. Every day when I get on the elliptical and start Columbo, for a moment I am an 8-year-old in her living room. I can visualize the bookshelf with its many small dog ornaments, the doorway into her small kitchen and dining room, and her TV against the wall. I can see her somewhat frizzy hair and almost smell her tater-tot casserole. I know she'll have a crossword in her hand and a James Michener book on the end table. I'm grateful to Netflix for suggesting this series to me. I'm going to look for more ways to connect with those who have gone before me. So many of them sacrificed so much and worked so hard to lay a foundation which has enabled me to live how and where I live today.
I'm grateful for that.