This past Sunday I spent several pleasant hours with cousins on my mother’s side of the family. We shared family stories, family pictures and had the opportunity to get to know each other, since my mother’s death so long ago created an unintended separation. I’m 12 to 15 years older than my cousins so I was able to recognize some of the people who  had passed away  and shared memories from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, before my cousins were born. We all had a wonderful time and before we knew it, it was time to go.

This past Monday and Tuesday my friend Patti Meyers helped fill in many blanks through her knowledge of Ancestry.com. She also helped me use it at the Oak Lawn Library. We traced relatives back to the 1840’s in Germany. Patti loves genealogy and my cousins and I got to benefit from her expertise. Thanks Patti.

I’ll turn 71 in a couple of weeks. Fortunately I am healthy and happy (knock on wood). My age gives me a longer term perspective on the ancestry issue because I have watched family members be born and die. I’m starting to feel the flow of life. I see how one generation is born, grows, procreates and nurtures the next one, hoping that life will be better for the newer generations. I see how life seems long when you are young, but not so long when you age. And I see in my own life how long it takes us to learn the lessons that life presents to us. We start out thinking we are well educated and know so much and end up realizing that book knowledge does not equal life knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong. I made some stupid mistakes in my early days, but I have no major regrets about what I’ve done with my life. Actually it looks like I now am where I am supposed to be. It is like the song, a long and winding road, but it is the process of traveling it that provides the valued learning that hopefully makes us better. And this is not my swan song, either. I’m not done yet! My grandpa Patrick McAllister lived into his late 90’s. I think I can beat his record, God willing. So I have ‘miles to go before I sleep.’

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