That’s not unusual. Despite our best intentions, most of us fall prey to this inability to order our universe in precisely the manner we wish. Whether it’s procrastination or perfectionism, it too often keeps us from saving our family histories.
We personal historians preserve the past for those in the future, but it’s important that we don’t ignore today for to do so complicates our family history goals, sometimes to the point of making them impossible.
For example, my mother-in-law Rose’s parents – Joseph and Frances Kastl – had six children born between 1898 and 1908. When the youngest child died at age 6 in 1915, Frances was distraught. They had no photos of their youngest son, Leopold.
To avoid a similar situation with their five surviving children, the Kastls dressed them up and had a family portrait taken, no small feat for a working class family in those days. The only problem with this, according to my mother-in-law, is that she wasn’t included since she wasn’t born until 1919. The next family portrait wouldn’t be taken until 1948, at Joseph and Frances’ Golden wedding anniversary. Rose is in that photo.
Although Rose’s siblings had memories of young Leo, Rose had nothing, not even a photo. It’s been a void in her own family history her entire life. Her brothers and sisters are now dead. If only someone had taken the time to share something about Leo or taken a picture.
The stars in your universe may not be perfectly aligned but if something is important to you today, do it today. Don’t put it off until the time is “right.” If that time comes, fine, do it again, but if it doesn’t come, you’ll be grateful for what you did today.
Writing prompt of the day: What one family history task of yours has been put on hold the longest? Get it started today.
Photo: Kastl family portrait ca. 1915. (Rose Hayes collection)