Is it me, or is closeness only an illusion in our family? Nearing fifty, with a beautiful wife and daughter, did I get my aloof nature from my genes or the environment that nurtured me?
It has been almost twenty years since my grandmother Betty’s passing, and although this started the journey of discovery into the family’s history, it has not brought me any closer to most of my living family.
It seems that one of the most standout features of our family is, that you would never be as close to your parents as the day you were born. From that moment forward you were destine to drift off in your own direction. Babies get all the attention, seen by aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, but as you age, you take your place as one of the forgotten souls that make up our tree.
Maybe, as a convict ripped from his homeland, our forbearer Frederick Brady started this trend when he died leaving his wife Mary and young children destitute. 1 2 If Mary could talk she would tell us, she had no choice, but putting her children in the orphanage before going off to re-married would start a trend of abandonment that would affect almost all descendants to come.
Disowning, disconnecting and disassociating would become some branches of the families modus operandi, whilst on other lines you may be considered lucky to have stayed in touch but with a “No Touch” policy.
It’s a shame that affection is infectious to the touch.
I feel the importance of family connection, but my initial reason for starting was because I felt no real connection. Finding out that we descend from a convict and looking into his tragic story, I realise that our family had lost so much due to our disconnected nature. I think at this point I felt it my duty to record as much as I could, in the hope that it would mean something to someone, someday. I found it difficult to put my words and feelings down on paper, at the same time trying not to offend others. I think feedback about how it may make family members feel to read it, may change my way of writing in the future.
1. Marriage, Rica Erickson and Gillian O’Mara, Convicts in Western Australia 1850 – 1887, ISBN 1875560440, Brady, Frederick Joseph (see Brady, James 3944), pp. 5152.
2. Ancestry.com, Australia, Marriage Index, 17881950 http://search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=1780 . Dongara 1876/4153 Frederick Brady and Frances Mary Dee.
Such a powerful inheritance from your family including a convict. However, knowing your amazing database, it has possibly allowed you to flourish in the less emotional computer era. So many of us have benefited from your collection with your generous patience correcting errors we find, which others have sent you, plus your willingness to add our data which can be shared with others.
Yes, you are polite but this is a blessing in an age of careless manners which frequently offend.
Convicts and their families often suffered unimaginably difficult problems which following generations fail to understand if they do not know their ancestor’s past.
Keep writing Darryl, lots of cameos so that you can develop one to a larger story.
Good to see you on here, and thanks for the kind words about my web site.
DNA had recently helped me solve the pre-Australia history of my convict. I’m wanting to tie that into the Saga. Should be fun.
Darryl, you are touching and connecting by doing your research and writing your family story. I find a kind of therapy in doing family history because of the way it helps to give meaning to so many things. I hope it works that way for you too. You certainly tell this story well.
Yes S., I also get a kind of therapy out of it. Thanks for reading my story.
Darryl, you have touched on a subject that I suspect is not often discussed. Not all families are close, even families who live in the same district. Nurture or nature? I suspect nurture – being the product of an environment perhaps. S. is right – you are touching and connecting by doing research. The age of digital communication has shown me that I have an amazing world of family background which I previously knew very little about. Large families, loners, the wealthy and the poor, the lucky and the unlucky – they are all in there. I suspect that many of them were not as warm as the ‘touchy feely’ people of today and that going about their ordinary day to day activities consumed most of their time. Thank you for an interesting topic and good luck with your writing.
C., I’m sure you are right. Not all families are close. I have made many wonderful connections with people over the years of researching. That alone, will keep me researching.
Darryl, I felt your story. That’s a huge compliment by the way. The purpose of art and communication is to feel and you have achieved this completely. Well done. Excellent work. Very original too.
I do take it as a compliment and it’s wonderful of you to tell me so, B. This writing stuff, isn’t all that bad after all. Looking forward to seeing if I can tease more feelings out of the family history.
I could have written that Reflective Statement myself. I am not close to my living family and so search for a connection with the past. By honouring my ancestors I feel that I belong to them, and therefore, someone. Perhaps my new born grand-daughter will be interested in reading the stories I leave behind and appreciate all the referenced research. Sadly, families today are not what they once were but by writing about our ancestors we bring them closer. Keep up the good work.
Belonging… to someone. I get that feeling.
D., your grand-daughter will be one of the lucky ones. Recently, my sister caught the family history bug. She has started on her mother’s side and it’s great to have another family member with an interest. Thanks for reading my story.
Your very personal piece of writing touched me greatly. There is much research about the Therapeutic benefit of writing and I hope that putting these somewhat painful thoughts on “paper” may provide some of that benefit to you. As for the writing itself I feel that you changed your “voice” half-way through the piece….by using “you” as opposed to the narrative you began with which seemed to come from “I”. I hope this makes sense. I find that sometimes in spoken language when a person finds it difficult to “own” a particular feeling they will switch to “you”.
This aside, I feel honoured to have read your piece.
Yes, I need to watch that change of voice. Not being much of a writer, I think the lessons on the right way to write, are helping me a lot. Oh, to remember my school days of many moons ago!
I’m glad you enjoyed it.
What a strong story. I gathered from it exactly what you said in your reflection, and empathised with it very strongly. Especially with my husband’s family… he started researching before the digital age…. and discovered something fishy about his grandmother’s birth… she had a different father, perhaps than her siblings. My husband was told to mind his own business by his Uncle back in Scotland… as if they didn’t share the family! Said uncle is dead now…. and there is nothing written anywhere to explain whether great grannie had an affair with a train driver!
but back to your piece.. I think there needs a ‘be’ between ‘to’ and ‘married’, fourth paragraph. a bit small criticism, but what I have to offer thank you again for this strong piece
Thanks N. for the correction and the feedback. Lots of hidden secrets in my family, I’m sure.
I very much enjoyed your story, and I find I have the situation in one of my families. Some families I am researching are so warm and welcoming and I feel I have known them all my life, not just the last 20 years of it. Another line is of the as you say, no touch variety. There seem to be a million secrets, and they are being very well guarded. Your story is great and thank you for telling us, lucky you in having a convict to journey with. Well done.
I have enjoyed this course, and coming back to this first statement about how my family history journey started, reminds me that it’s an ever-changing path.