When I talk about my family I am usually talking about my three daughters, my two sons, my granddaughter, my new grandson and myself. My family however is much larger than you would think. I am for instance the no 9 child in a family of 13 children. My dad had four sisters who all had families. My mother’s family also reproduced a few times. My siblings all have kids and some of their kids have kids. Huge would not be a big enough word to describe how large my family is.
Nowadays it is really hard to get a sense of family and community as complete as those that existed during both World Wars. I am close to my brothers and sisters. I was relatively ignorant of how intense and big my family was when I was younger. It took for me to have children of my own to get to meet some of my cousins and their families. It has also taken years for me to realise how important these people are in my life.
I have for the last few years been interested in compiling my family history. I had spoken to my mother before she died about doing this project. I have a wish to see this huge, fascinating, interesting and compelling family in its entirety. I want to see a physical history but also a social history. The reasons for doing this are:
1. To give all the people who are not here any more their place in the family tree.
2. To give all the people still here and those still to be born a sense of place and belonging to something bigger than them.
3. To feel a sense of completion and a sense of tying up loose ends.
4. To leave something behind for future generations to see what a strong, hard-working, colourful and inspirational family they come from.
5. To fulfil a promise I made to myself when my dad died that I would do something to make him proud of me. (I know he was proud of me but this would have made him happy).
6. To find loads of characters, scenarios and inspiration for stories I want to write both fictional and non fiction.
7. To practice compiling family histories because it is a large part of what I do at work and I would like to become an expert at it.
8. As a reason to spend some time with my dad’s sisters because they are beautiful, wise, caring women who have a great sense of family.
9. As a way to keep my brain busy because I am underwhelmed with the work I do at the moment.
So as you see I am a little obsessed with this project.
The work starts tomorrow. I am going to visit my aunties in the afternoon. I am going to take a big notebook and write down everything they tell me. I will be a sponge soaking up the language, the lives, the characters and the amazing tales. I can’t wait. It will be good to see them all, to be in their magnificent company and learn a lot about life. These women have all lived through many situations and I would be honoured to hear about them.
I am looking forward to today. I have a new sense of purpose and enthusiasm for this task. I am lucky to be part of this family and I want to do everyone proud. It is a huge task but I think I am up to the challenge.
Watch this space for updates.