As long as our stories are told.
“Genealogy becomes a mania, an obsessive struggle to penetrate the past and snatch meaning from an infinity of names. At some point the search becomes futile – there is nothing left to find, no meaning to be dredged out of old receipts, newspaper articles, letters, accounts of events that seemed so important fifty or seventy years ago. All that remains is the insane urge to keep looking, insane because the searcher has no idea what he seeks. What will it be? A photograph? A will? A fragment of a letter? The only way to find out is to look at everything, because it is often when the searcher has gone far beyond the border of futility that he finds the object he never knew he was looking for.” (Henry Wiencek The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White) .
I took my daughter to Tours a few days ago to provide us both a change of scenery. This city, situated in the center of France, is close to my heart because that’s where my mother was born. All my family on her side lived in the area too for at least 9 generations before her. That means even before the French revolution!
We set camp in Montlouis, just outside of the city in a camping site on the Loire river’s banks. No matter what we do during the summer, we always prefer a camp site instead of a hotel room. Even if it’a an urban environment! There was a heat wave afflicting most of the country last week and with a general 40° during day time (and just a little less than 30° during the night), i’d much prefer to stay outdoors anyway.
I have a postcard with my great great parents’ house and a few people – some are relatives. So, with little information about where it was exactly, we drove to the village where it had been taken ( about 10 km² large, 1 639 inhabitants) and searched for it. Thanks to helpful neighbours, we found it and baaam there goes the time travel again!
We’re now back home and I’m working on that family tree again because our trip made me want to know more about the history of this house. I’ve been studying the village Census and one hundred years of reports gave me new infos which are taking my mind in so many different family stories.
“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”
― Liam Callanan, The Cloud Atlas