As I focus on the members of my family who came before me and have long been gone from this world, I am made more aware of who I am as a person; not the person I have become as a result of my society, but the person I was fated to be at birth: the result of generations. I realize that I am my own unique person, yet at the same time, I am a conglomeration of many people that have been contained in a common soul.
Who am I? I am the young man who traveled overland to California to seek riches in the creek beds of Sutter’s Mill; husband of the young woman who, at sixteen, taught school amidst a lawless, wild community. I am the young Irishwoman who traveled to America with her bastard son to escape the stigma of being an unwed mother in the middle 1800s. I am the widowed Civil War veteran that died of wounds sustained in battle leaving behind four orphaned children; and I am one of those orphaned children who married well, yet suffered the heartbreak of the loss of several children. I am the passenger of the mayflower, a daughter of the American Revolution and a descendant of the Civil War. My direct ancestors carried the flag for Richard the Lionheart, ruled England, and died the Viking’s death.
Although my tree branches out in several directions through my parents and my parents’ parents, I am made aware that I am the root of my own tree, and my root sends out its own branches through my children, who are then roots of their own unique trees. When I contemplate my uniqueness in the history of my family, I see that we are all truly distinctive as humans. Each of us has a place in this forest of life and who we are depends on the ones that walked the path before us.