Most people are aware that I never knew my father. From all reports he was not healthy to be around at that time of his life. So my mother took me to live at her folks house for a while, got a divorce, and moved on with her life. She married another man who gave me his last name and raised me as his own.
When I began trying to get a job on the radio, my legal last name, was deemed to be too long. So I suggested my birth name and the bosses loved it. When I was a kid I never thought about father, or missed him, or wondered about him or anything. I had a family. But when I became an adult I started answering medical questions about family history. It began to nag me that I didn't know anything about my Nash heritage.
About 10 years ago I began a half-hearted attempt to discover my heritage. I discovered my dad eventually got his life together and ended up marrying a really nice lady in Hawaii. I have some half brothers out there and a sister in Texas who I have corresponded with a few times on e-mail. Sadly my dad died about 10 years before I started searching so there won't be any reunion.
I just quit the search at that point. There were no living Nash's from my family to speak to. His 2 sisters had died as well as my grandparents. So that was that. Or was it?
Recently I have been feeling the urge to start searching again. My cousin Kim, on my mom's side, is really into documenting the family tree. I've seen some of the stuff and was fascinated. She has her family tree going back to the 1400's! She encouraged me to join Ancestry.com. It's not cheap if you want to see the documents. But I went all in, and am really glad I did. I've been having so much fun the last few days "clicking on the leaves". Leaves are documents they think might be attached to a family member.
I've traced my Nash heritage back to 1600 so far and just found the first one to come to America.
James married Alice in 1626 in Somerset England. Their first child, James the II or as I would have called him lil James, was born in 1629 in Boston. So that means they must have sailed over in that 3 year window which was within a decade of the first Pilgrims landing at Plymouth rock in 1620.
One thing that is obvious from looking at the documents of the Nash's, Kingman's, Dyers, Stearn's and dozens of other names that are a part of my family tree, is life is tough. There are countless stories of babies lost, or children dying in their teens, or men killed in battles. There's also divorces, bankruptcy's, and extended illnesses. It dawned on me that every family is filled with survivors. If you are alive, and not a direct decedent of a royal throne, then you came from a family that had to endure some amazing hardships. We all come from hearty stock! No matter what you're going through, there's probably someone in your family history who has survived it, so you can too.
The other thing I'm reminded of is how short our time on earth is. Some get a day (yes I saw several death certificates for children who died in 1 or 2 days), some get 100 years (I haven't seen anyone in my tree get that long yet, but a bunch made it till their 90's). None of us know how long we'll be here. We all know it's not forever so stop acting like it is. Make the most of every day.
My final thought is how closely we are all related. I'm finding relatives from all over the place! We really should treat each other like family, because if you trace it back far enough, we really are family.