Saturday, 27 October 2012

Family Tree

Frustration  In Spades

When I first started working on our family tree, it was but a whimsical idea.  My sister and some cousins thought it would be interesting to see how our tree had grown, how many different nationalities and cultures we had embraced into our midst, how far abroad we had spread our branches, how many career paths we had imprinted, how many lifestyles we had wandered into, how many beliefs we had adopted, etc. etc. etc.  A fascinating subject, right?  Well, try it!

This sounded like an intriguing project and my sister got it started by gathering some basic genealogical facts.  She did not have a computer and did not type so she did it all in longhand on foolscap sheets that she kept in a large envelope in her desk drawer.  As she got older, she found the task burdensome as she had reached the limits of her personal knowledge and found other sources of information beyond her reach.  So who gets stuck with the continuation and the extension of this fantastic project?  Of course, the most likely candidate will be 1) someone that expressed interest in the project originally, 2) someone who has some basic computer knowledge, and most importantly 3) someone who is too naive to realise what she is getting into. The sum total of those factors at that time equalled ME.  I took that pile of foolscap home and entered a phase of my life that I had never encountered before.

With the aid of a computer program called the “Family Tree Maker” I organised the information, ran up monumental phone bills tracing (or visiting) reluctant or indifferent relatives, browsed through reams of Homecoming Books from places I had never even heard of, searched through countless unproductive archive files, visited graveyards throughout the prairies peering at unreadable gravestones and performing other unspeakably lunatic manoeuvres.  

Consequently, I have learned several very important lessons.  This project is monumental. It is exhausting.  It is “never-ending”.  It is time, energy and brain consuming.  It is costly.  It is thankless.  And worst of all, it is hopeless!   I give up!

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