Puzzles, Balance and Life

A reminder to dwell with the living

I’m not sure I wish I had discovered genealogy research earlier. It’s become a gratifying hobby. No, an obsession. There is very little I don’t like about working on my extended family lines. However, it can be likened to falling down a rabbit hole and not coming up for hours. “Just one more thing and I’ll stop for awhile.” More often than not, that one more thing leads to one more thing, I look up at the clock and notice it’s 2 am.

Genealogy is a monstrous puzzle of linking dead people. But it’s more than that to me. Last fall, my DAR meeting had a guest speaker who REALLY resonated with me. She happens to be the president of the local genealogy society (which I joined), and whose focus is bringing the lives of those dead people back to life. Our ancestors lived very full lives between their date of birth and date of death, and that the cause of their death was not necessarily a sum of how they lived. She’s a proponent of writing stories and books about our family members who are gone. And Noel is one of the biggest reasons I started this blog. I like writing, and it’s easy for me to put ideas on paper–as long as my topics don’t have to have a thread to link them all. I like writing vignettes. This is the most logical way for me to bring those people back to life and be able to put it out there for friends and family to read and learn.

You don’t have to be related to me to feel connected to my people. My people are undoubtedly no different than your people. They got up every morning, did chores or worked, they married and raised families, and they worried about their children and grandchildren. And when I say ancestors, I don’t necessarily mean people who lived in the 1700s. Sure, they qualify as ancestors. But so did your grandmother’s grandmother. Those people are *almost* the present. Yet they are often out of reach for a variety of reasons.

How does this connect to balance? Well, like anything else, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Spending too much time delving into the lives of the dead means I’m not 100% focused on the living. I’ve curtailed my research to make sure that the ratio of my time spent with the living is more than my time with the dead. I’m pretty sure my dead peeps would endorse this mindset.

I’m now at the age where losing friends and family is not uncommon. The past five years have been tough. I’ve lost people very close to me and people who were not in my everyday life but whose lives touched mine. Those loved ones serve as a reminder to… live. My friends have lost parents, children, siblings and friends too. We’re all in this together.

Back to puzzles. All my life, I’ve loved puzzles. My parents are puzzle people. When I grew up, there was often a puzzle on the dining room table. I’d come home from work, drop my stuff on my bed and come to the table to work on it for a spell. I may or may not have had times when I didn’t get along with my parents very well and didn’t feel like making small talk with them. Somehow, working on puzzles seemed to bridge the divide. By the time we quit for the night, the conversations weren’t as tense and there was some inexplicable healing.

I was fortunate to marry a man who also liked puzzles a whole lot. When we were going through tough times, the puzzle seemed to be a place where Kevin and I could let our guard down and work together. Maybe I’ll start a puzzle on my dining room table and encourage him to stay a half hour the next time he’s over? We get along great, so I don’t have an ulterior motive. Well, other than just enjoying a few minutes together to be a team.

When I share some of my own ancestral journeys with you, it’s a decision to let you in on the satisfaction of working a puzzle. It’s a pleasure to have you join me.

Photo by Rucksack Magazine on Unsplash

Author: Betsey K.

Mother of two daughters, two Siamese cats and a 3 legged dog. Genealogy hack. Research nut. Search engine proficient. Daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece and ex-wife. And a person who strives for balance and peace.

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