We are each taking stock of where we have got to over the past three years of working on our family history and I think now have realistic goals and a lot more confidence about the next stages. I have finished my writing, bar filling a few holes in research, and am receiving feedback on it. This has meant a major re-write of one chapter, so the end is forever just out of sight! Do I need a new project and another branch of the family to research and write up or shall I just cancel my subscription to Ancestry and call it quits?
My current project covers the 18th and 19th centuries, with a brief epilogue to bring it up to date. I am wondering about some work on the more recent past, which would be grandparents in old age, parents and my childhood, but am concerned it could be emotional and painful. As teenagers and adults my siblings and I took a dim view of our parents’ marriage, which seemed so conflict-ridden. I have a photo of them, just before they were married in 1942, on the rocks at Tintagel, Cornwall and looking very much in love.
Another photo shows my father’s mother with them there – on the grounds that it was not respectable for an unmarried couple to go away together without a chaperone. My father was a keen amateur photographer so I have a super record of our childhood in pictures, but would it add up to anything worthwhile? Could I record my youthful misadventures with anything but embarrassment and shame? I am left with the feeling that the journey of such work is more important than the destination. As we approach old age it seems important to somehow make sense of our lives. In my end is my beginning, or some such wisdom.