Kathy Knechtges's Blog

Kathy Knechtges

Kathy Knechtges
Birthday
December 25
Bio
Writer and meditator, with an Independent bent. Have written for California and Midwest publications. Interests are the loss of the middle class, American manufacturing, unions, immigration, and the welfare of families and children.

Kathy Knechtges's Links

Salon.com
MARCH 5, 2013 3:47PM

The Unexpected Joy Of Family History Blogging!

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As an older blogger, I am delighted to have just stumbled upon a new writing thrill. A younger cousin of mine recently suggested that I help form a private family history website on Facebook.

 

I had really been missing the huge clan we used to have in my hometown. My mother had six sisters and they were best friends. There were numerous cousins, with family picnics on Lake Michigan where all of us jumped the huge breakers while hanging on to a precarious section rope on the beach. And there were all the traditional family dinners with standard menus, including whipped cream fruit salad. 

 

Families were much larger then ...  but now most of my relatives have died or moved out of our economically depressed area. Mom died a few years ago. at 88, and she had become  incredibly close to my husband and I. She was the last of the Mohicans.

 

This much younger cousin I mentioned is part of a fading remnant of my once close, active and vibrant family in the area. She friended me after her father, my first cousin, died recently. When she suggested a closed family website to post pictures, it immediately struck me as a great idea.

 

I have some really old pictures  from my Mom, and her sisters who died before her. I posted a few charming gems and tried to begin to explain our family's dim history. Since all of my older relatives are now dead, I realized that much of our history has died with them -- the background color, the stories and jokes. I began doing research on the wonderful free Morman website FamilySearch.org.. To my surprise, the younger relatives were excited and eagerly read everything I wrote. I never would have dreamed that they were that interested. Perhaps with divorce, two-child families, and all working mothers, they missed some of our  huge gatherings for lazy summer days at the beach that were so frequent, and so easily arranged.

 

And I was instantly in love with the writing process of it! I felt an explosion of creative energy that I hadn't felt in years. I actually regained the effortless creativity I had  had as a child.

 

As a younger writer, I eventually felt frustration with journalism writing. It seemed too mechanical with the style, limitations and rules. And I always froze up when writing under pressure. When I developed depression in my 30's, that seemed to make writing even harder and slower. I still loved it, but it took much longer.

 

But now, there comes this return of effortless inspiration!  ... The stories pour out from nowhere, and fill me with joy. And my family keeps reading.

 

This reminds me of something I read in an absolute gem of a tiny book "Advice For Photographers: The Next Step," by Al Weber. He is a long- time professional photographer who also loves teaching adults how they can make it in the creative world at any age. I  find  it a wondrous bible of wisdom on creativity in general. He stresses that you have to go on and try new things with your art, or you get stagnant.

My family history blog gives me a whole new challenge as a writer. I feel totally freed, making it up as I write, having few ground rules. I also love my family, so it serves that need.

 

And also, amazingly, it is bringing my clan back together! I am interacting  with relatives I never knew that well, or haven't seen in years. No longer confined to our hometown, our internet family now spans the whole country!

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Comments

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I know all about jumping into those cold Lake Michigan breakers. My mom is now 91, the instigator and the link between all the generations of the family. Her passing will be the end and it's hard to even imagine what will happen after that. I'm not sure virtual reality is the replacement for reality it's cracked up to be.
Hi Ben! Thanks so much for commenting!
How wonderful, it's like you got two great gifts that you weren't even expecting. Even better that what you're doing is a gift to so many others.
Weird, I have 4 younger cousins on my father's side who I had no contact with until just before I moved to New Zealand (10 years ago). They've turned out to be the biggest fans of my author blog and my books.
Thank you for the link to familysearch.org. I'm just starting to research some of our family history. Like you, I'm losing family members and wanting to put stories to paper.
hey, kathy. i was happy to see you had posted something - and so happy for you that you found a new place to write and accomplish a bunch of things in one place. putting the family pieces together is a great adventure - delighted you're having fun with it.
Bleue, what a lovely comment, it meant a lot.

Thanks torrito, it is fun isn't it!
Mr. Bramhall, how wonderful that your relatives are reconnecting with you in this way.
Bellweather, that site is a Godsend!!
femme, thanks ya'll, nice to see you!
I miss the days when I had a large family.
Thanks for posting about your familysearch.org experience. I've recently realized that with the passing of my father, I will eventually become the oldest living family member, etc. Now that you are the sage matriarch in the family you carry the history and it's wonderful that you are passing it down. Sounds like you're enjoying it too.
Gabby, the Morman free site is the largest of its kind in the world. What a service, thank you for commenting.
How wonderfully inspiring! I think that so many of us long for that family connection, and it's amazing how much the internet has facilitated that.

I've been doing some research on ancestry.com, and the feeling you get when you see documents with the signatures of long-dead family members is genuinely moving.
So good to "see' you Jeannette!
hey kathy...i'm usually on our salon these days but glad i visited and caught your blog...reaaly great post. your joy comes through and if it ain't joyful, what's the point? keep it going, girl...