I have never have been one for family trees. I've met too many people who tended to be trying to prove what absolutely splendid stock they came off and how important their ancestors were. Perhaps I'm being cynical and unfair. Perhaps I'm jealous that my own ancestry is so dodgy and murky. (Out shortly, you'll have to buy the book to find out more!)
What its taught me, as if I didn't know, is the shortness of our little lives, the speed that it all moves. Our fallibility, our sheer mortality.
Photographs are, in the grander scheme of things, a somewhat modern phenomena. Paintings can go back thousands of years, photographs a mere hundred or two. ('Boulevard du Temple by Louis Daguerre, 1838 or 39, the first photo ever including a human being. A ten minute exposure of a street but included a man having his shoes polished.) Paintings tended to favour the upper classes, but once photography was invented, all classes were exposed, literally to this new phenomenon. My research has uncovered some interesting pictures used in my ebook.
Great, great grandad William, born 1816. (1817, James Monroe became the 5th American President; Barack Obama is the 44th.)
Granny Hudston, born 1875. (Alexander Graham Bell makes the first voice transmission. Jesse James robs the train in Otterville, Missouri. Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel. 21 hours 15 minutes.)
Mary Elizabeth Stevens, my mother, born 1906. (Rolls Royce Ltd was formed. The San Francisco earthquake destroyed 75% of the city. First aeroplane flight in Europe.)
Kenneth Allan Hudston (Stevens) born 1939. The start of World War Two.
I wince when I see the two photos of myself. (But I am comforted by my latest reading. 'When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone by Philip Gould.) I am also comforted and amused by the fact that my ebook will hopefully prove I existed when I am gone.
I can do no more than quote a favourite poem than I have included in the introduction to my ebook. Mind you, please note, I'm not thinking of going yet!
Sing no sad songs for me.
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cyprus tree.
Be the green grass above me.
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember'
And if thou wilt, forget.
Rosetti Christina Georgina 1830-1894