This article by Megan Ann Steyskal originally appeared on The Accidental Librarian.com website and is used here by permission.
…or re-living the journey of my ancestors
I probably spend about an hour a day on Facebook: scanning the feed, commenting sarcastic quips (which I’m sure everyone appreciates), hitting the like button once too often, even doing those quizzes as to which Disney Princess I am most definitely NOT. I love the feeling of community: being linked to friends and family I haven’t seen in years and getting a [non-stalker and totally legal] peek into their day to day’s ups and downs. I don’t mind the “Eeyore” posts about life’s realities or that bragging posts have now taken over the “my kid’s an honor student” bumper stickers. Bring on the selfies, baby pics, life lessons learned, the inspirational and the “aren’t you glad you aren’t this stupid” memes and yes, even the politics because it’s what makes us different that makes social media so interesting… and addicting.
Along with all the social media outlets a new-age journal concept has emerged. Ready-to-order books of your Instagram photos, Facebook posts and every pic ever downloaded can be made and delivered to your doorstep with a touch of a button. These not only make for great keepsakes and coffee table fodder but the tangible books have the potential to outlast your life, your children’s lives and even their children’s lives. A whole new root has branched off the Genealogy Tree and I for one am embracing it.
One of my earliest examples of the importance of keeping a journal stems back 4 generations when in Christmas of 1993 my Grandparents gave each of their children and grandchildren a published autobiography of my Great, Great Grandfather: William A. Moody.
I admit I wasn’t so intrigued with the book “Years in the Sheaf” at the self centered phase of my 14 year old existence. Of all the times I perused and halfheartedly read I never did find out the meaning of the title but over the years I have found out the significance of the spirit of the book.
How sweet has it been for me to have this family treasure: a constant reminder of resilience and persistence that I can learn from and apply. I have grown with him, laughed with him, metaphorically pee’d my pants in fear and cried when his struggles seemed too much.
He starts the adventure with a quick glimpse into his childhood and of his misadventures: one being when he was 20 yrs old and brazenly wrestled and eventually killed a four-prong buck with his bare hands: walking away a train wreck of scars and bruises and the biggest grin. When I was twenty I killed my first and only mouse by means of an old school ACME mouse trap, laced with peanut butter: never again.
At age 24 he was called on his first mission to Samoa. Exotic jungle islands, language barriers and physical stresses were written with humility and gratitude. His wife, Adelia, was allowed to go with him and 3 days after the birth of their baby girl, Hazel, Adelia died from complications. There he was: far away from home, the loss of his first love and a baby to care for all the while being true to his missionary work. The kneeling, sobbing prayers of his grief gave way to personal growth and comforting faith that God heard him, that He knew him and that He would not abandon him.
Through-out his life he tenderly reflected on his loves and losses. He was married five times, widowed four times and had a total of seven children. At the birth of his first son he wrote: “Although I am sure I showed no disappointment at the birth of my five fine girls, still I did yearn for a son, and was overwhelmed when little Rupert arrived.”
A year later he was called on his second mission to Samoa stemming for two and a half years (1908-1910). Without flourish and pomp he recorded his work and efforts all the while singing praises to his Savior for whom he owed everything too.
Years and chapters pass of his achievements, gains and losses of ordinary life. Once again, with the same humility and sweetness he had to account for yet another heart-ache:
“A distress that long scarred my heart was caused by the fact that my son pleaded and begged to be allowed to remain with us and not return to Thatcher with the girls. ‘Papa, don’t send me back. I want to stay with you.’ he sobbed, winding his arms about my neck. I was hard put to refuse him, but common sense dictated that I not indulge his whim. I pointed out that only two weeks of school remained in the term, and after he had completed his lessons and got his credit, he could come and spend the entire summer with us.
‘We’ll be waiting for you,’ I said
But as though he had some presentiment of fate to come, he would not go, and I finally had to force him gently to loosen his arms from around me, and I sent him away weeping.
He never returned.
The following Sunday he walked from Thatcher to the farm, a distance of six miles, and during the day, while leading a horse with a rope, he was somehow jerked and thrown on his head. The rope, broken and knotted, was still clutched in his hand when they found him. We rushed to his side, but he was dead upon our arrival.
The sorrow of our final parting of his life lingers vividly with me, though so many years have come and gone.
Rupert Moody, born January 12th, 1907; died April 20th, 1918.”
How wonderful it has been for me to read and share in my ancestor’s life. The closeness I felt, the connection of family and the influence he has had on my own testimony is something I want to pass on to my son. For Braden to have a written account of my testimony of our Savior and the life’s experiences that have built my faith is the mark I want to leave for my child, his children and their children.
Megan Ann Steyskal
Megan is a thirty-something single mom blogger who lives in Portland, OR. She has worked in Pharmacy for the past 15 years and spends her free time free-lance writing for parenting blogs and completing her novel. When in "time-out" (of her own accord) she reads and writes, then reads some more. You can find her blog at The Accidental Librarian.