My Calling

If you see on the lower right hand-side, I have about 20 surnames. Not all are blood lines to my tree. Most are the spouse, person on the census, or some other type of connection in my research. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about them.

I believe that every black person in these counties are related me some kind of way. I’ve even found connection between my Cuz Tina’s paternal line and my family (her ancestors and mine married further up the tree-so we’re cousins a couple of times along the way)

I post all the surnames I come across because you never know who is reading. What if someone just so happens to be researching an Uncle that they knew about but didn’t really know?

I truly believe that this is my calling; connecting the dots on my tree with solid lines! And as I begin working on my presentation and try to think of what I’m going to say at my family reunion, I came across this poem that says it perfectly.

My feelings are in each family we are called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again,
To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead,
Breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe.
We have been called as it were by our genes.
Those who have gone before cry out to us:
Tell our story.
So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried?
I have lost count.

How many times have I told the ancestors
you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us?

How many times have I walked up to a grave
and felt somehow there was love there for me?
I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts.
It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do?
It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever
to weeds and indifference and saying I can’t let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today.
It goes to respecting their hardships and losses,
their never giving in or giving up.

Their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.
It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us
That we might be born who we are.
That we might remember them.
So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,
Because we are them and they are us.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.

It is up to that one called in the next generation,
To answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy,
And that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

[Author: Della M. Cumming ca 1943.]

6 Replies to “My Calling”

  1. Absolutely – BEAUTIFUL! Can any words sum up the spirit of retracing our Ancestoral steps better than this?

    I have had 3 distinct situations that let me know (clearly) we do not do this work alone – the Ancestors are assisting us. They want their stories told.

    If the questions weigh on your shoulders, you are the chosen Griot, at this chosen time, in your bloodline. That’s a beautiful & heavy responsibility.

    It’s also a sign that your Ancestors trust you, they know who is capable of being the medium to tell their story.

    Do your thing girl… you are making them proud!:-)

    Mechie

  2. I just had to google Griot. Thanks for making me learn my word for the day! I love it.

    I completely agree. Everytime I research my family, I hear my Great Grandmother Bessies voice telling me, “You know I was the first one to hold you when you came home from the hospital”. Not being able to hear that now, still brings tears to my eyes.

  3. Hi, Allum,

    I have had this poem on my website for several years, but did not know who the author was. I’m glad to see you have the info, so I can give credit where due.

    Welcome to the Genea-Bloggers Group. I’ll be adding your blog to my Google Reader. Have you added your blog to Blog Networks at Facebook yet?

  4. Thanks for sharing your history with all of us. I’ve enjoyed reading your site, and who knows, we could be family! I’ve got a some Lowry’s and McPherson’s in my family. I have been at this a while, and just to keep things interesting I research all the cousins. (otherwise I would be stuck on all my brick walls). I think I’ve discovered that this is my calling as well. It’s so nice to “meet” you. ~Sasha

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