I have spent a lot of time on ancestry.com these past few weeks, compiling bits and pieces of memoirs, census data, reading old documents about war enlistment, immigration, marriages, and deaths. I’ve learned things about the relatives that I’ve never met; the people who shaped and formed those in my past generation(s), and that is cool. I have always been fascinated with my family history and I am stoked to finally get to visit the homeland of my Italian heritage in just a few short weeks (thank you to my husband for making that long-time dream a reality). We are privileged, in this time of technology, to have the means to digitally compile this data and learn about those who would otherwise be long forgotten. I am building a huge family tree of generational data that I am excited to share with and leave for my own children. If you have never checked out the ancestry website and are interested in your heritage, I highly encourage you to give it a try. It’s amazing what you will uncover!
While this project has been fun and informative, I also find that there is an important lesson to be learned. It’s really very simple and probably even a bit cliché and a common statement: “Don’t take time for granted”. We don’t have as much of it as we may think. Give people your attention now because a time will come when you will gladly give anything just to have a few hours with them. While you have more than just a compilation of photographs and memories, make the time to be with those who matter; those who love and miss you. Look them in the eyes when you speak to them, listen to their stories, their worries, and their cares; really see them and likewise, share your life with them. Make the call or plan the visit that you think you’ll get to later. Weeks fly by; they really do. We don’t realize that when we are young and self-absorbed, I know that I didn’t. Say the things you need to say now, even if the words and timing aren’t perfect. Put down the work that seems so necessary today. It can wait until tomorrow; it’s not going anywhere, but your loved one could be.I am going to miss my loved ones for the rest of my time here. That’s my only option now. You’ve lost people you love too, so I know that you get that. We are surrounded by those whom we don’t have to miss, who aren’t relegated to our past, who we can see, touch, hug, talk to and learn from.Today, choose to live with those who are alive. It’s okay to miss the dead. Just don’t miss the living.