My grandpa died when my dad was 15 years old. I never had the opportunity to meet him, or interact with him, but because of stories that have been passed down both orally and through his autobiography, I feel a connection to him. I like to imagine that it is from my Grandpa Cutler that I inherited my love of root beer and peppermint ice cream (separately, of course!) as well as Pride and Prejudice.
My Grandma Cutler died when I was 11. I remember going to her house for a couple days each summer and going into the orchard with her, or playing school in her school house room in the basement. One night in particular I remember that my little sister S and I had a sleepover at grandma's house and she fixed us rice pancakes for dinner, teaching us how to fold batter rather than mix it. Everyone who knew her picked up on her unfailing kindness, many never having heard her say an unkind thing about anyone--I know I never did--and in one goal brainstorm I found from my high school years I found a note that said "Be as kind as Grandma Cutler." It was from others, however, that I learned that her kindness was even more remarkable than I was aware of, because it was born in opposition to her difficulty growing up with a real-life bonafide "evil stepmother" of which she never said anything herself.
I was reminded often of these sterling examples in my own recent family history by the pedigree chart hanging on the wall in our living room growing up, and by my grandparents picture that hung beside it (along with the pictures of my other grandparents and some of my great grandparents).
A 2010 study conducted at Emory University concluded what I have learned for myself anecdotally--that the more kids know about their family history, the better they are able to cope with difficult challenges and the more self esteem they have. They are more emotionally stable. They learn that they are a link in a larger chain rather than an island and they have true stories they can rely on that show the ups and downs of life.
This is one of the biggest reasons that Kesler and I had a desire to have a gorgeous pedigree chart hanging in a prominent location in our home. Not only would it be able to serve as a conversation starter with guests in our home to talk about our belief in eternal families, but also act as a subtle reminder to both us, and our children that we have a rich heritage of those who came before us. We want baby F and his future siblings to be inspired and cautioned by the stories we know about those who came before us and to want to create their own worthy legacy for their posterity. The perfect recipe? A beautifully self-reinforcing chain of stories of our ancestors and a daily visual reminder of their presence.