October 7, 2007

Musings on Genealogy, Life & Death

A good friend was killed in an accident on Thursday evening. His unexpected death made me think about how suddenly life can twist and turn on us. John lived life to the fullest, and was on one of his introspective journeys through North America on his motorcycle when he was killed.

Losing such a good friend so suddenly made me pause to reflect on the unfinished things in life. I thought about all the half-finished genealogy projects I have on the go. The books uncompleted. The exciting genealogy finds written out or photocopied but stuffed in a drawer, not yet entered in my genealogy program....

All the unsorted and unfiled piles of paper, both personal and genealogy-related... the ones I keep saying "Gee one day I MUST get those put away..."

All the unlabelled photographs tossed into storage tubs or stuck in those dreadful sticky clear paper pages of albums of 20 years ago...

I asked my husband if he would get the facts straight if he had to suddenly write an obituary for me. Nope, he mixed up where I was born with where I lived as a child. He wasn't positive what my mother's maiden name was....

It's not the end of the world that hubby had things slightly wrong, but it occurred to me that as a genealogist, if I want it right I better do it myself. And do it now.

Yesterday I spent most of the day sorting old photos. As the family keeper of the photographs, I have photos going back to the 1860s. I have photo albums from cousins who have passed on. From Aunts and Uncles no longer with us. I'm probably one of the few people in my family who know the identity of many of the indidividuals in those photos. But have I labelled them? Nope, of course not....

This morning I started carefully writing (in pencil) on the backs of the thousands of photos I have. I removed hundreds from those photo-destroying old albums. Hubby is busy scanning them for me.

Action was a huge part of John's life. He lived to the fullest - windsurfing, skiing, playing hockey, boating, riding his motorcyle. John pushed me to start my website Olive Tree Genealogy back in 1996. I'd like to think that he would be pleased to know that even in death he spurred me on to get off my (ahem) and take some action instead of sitting around saying "one day..."

John will be missed but every time I look at my sorted and labelled photos, I'll smile as I think about him.

3 comments:

Tex said...

Sounds like John would be pleased with one outcome of his death--spurring you on to action. It is hard to lose loved ones, especially when their death comes so suddenly. I believe genealogists perhaps more than anyone know the fleeting nature of life--not that we act on it, but we do recognize that in a very real sense, death is a part of life. May your sorting and labeling and subsequent memories of John continue to bring a smile to your face.

Miriam said...

Lorine, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It's true that when we lose someone, we recognize how fleeting life really is.

I'd like to invite you and your readers to join me for Scanfest, held every last Sunday of the month. It's a time when we get together to chat and scan our precious old photos and documents, making the time to do so, so we don't end up with overwhelming piles to work on. Details are here.


Take care,
Miriam

Carol Anne said...

I'm sorry for your loss. It's a shame that it takes things like this to remind us of our own mortality, and of all those things that are left undone.

My best to you. Your blog is fantastic!

Carol Anne