I posted this in 2009, shortly after joining OS. The project it pretty much complete now and upon my death my children will be given copies to pass along to their children.
Four years ago I sat down and wrote the first of what, so far has been five letters to the unborn generation of my family who will come along after I am gone. The letters are to be passed along to my children after I die and to their children after them.
There is no greater knowledge a person can possess than the knowledge of where they came from and who came before them, for to know these things, one will surely know themselves. So this is my gift to the future members of my clan.
The following is the first of what is, so far, five letters....
To the Grandchildren of My Grandchildren
Greetings to you who have yet to be born, from one who lived before you. I am writing you this letter which hopefully you will read when you have reached adulthood and can understand the things I am going to try to pass along to each of you.
I am your long dead ancestor and I was born in the year 1949 in the small Texas town of Livingston, Texas. My father was Rufus Fount McClain. He was born in the year 1917, in Trinity, Texas. My Grandfather was Sep Yuree McClain and he was born in the year 1876, also in Texas. My Great Grandfather was named Sam Houston McClain. He too was born in Texas, in the year 1849. And, finally, my Great Great Grandfather, William Zedekiah McClain was born in the year 1812 in Tennessee.
I give you this brief family history so that you each may better understand a
point I want to make to you with this letter. We are each the sum total of those who came before us. Each of you, like myself, has been touched by history from the time we were born. I grew to adulthood influenced either by the presence of these men, or the stories of their lives. So too will you be influenced by these same men and perhaps, in some small way, by the stories of me.
As I write this I have no idea where you will begin life. Today my five children are scattered from Texas, to the state of Washington so as you read this you could be anywhere. You might be rich or you might be poor or somewhere in between; you have an equal chance to be any of these. But, what you all have in common is the fact that you are all from the family, McClain. Whatever your future holds, you will always be the distant product of the men I have named above.
In writing this I hope to give each of you a small insight as to why you act the way you do and why you react to the world around you the way you do, for each of those men are with you as you read this, in some small way.
Each man I have named had a few things in common. They all were fiercely independent men and all lived what would be considered by most as lives of poverty. None of them, to my knowledge, ever had a lot of money or material wealth. What they did have and, I suspect, what each of you will possess is an overabundance of personal pride.
Now many will tell you, as they did me, that pride can be a bad thing and I agree to some extent. Pride, when it manifests itself as an arrogant, superior self assurance can indeed be a bad thing. But, when that pride leads you to hold yourself to a higher standard of conduct, then it can serve you well in life.
Know this…Each and every one of you are descendant of men who had a strong moral code, who stood up to be counted when their country or their neighbor needed them. These simple, hard and straightforward men never asked “why”, they just answered every call. When the time came that their sweat and blood were no longer required they each went back to their lives and got on with quietly raising their families.
None of your ancestors were ever involved in the important decision making of this country, they were just the men who saw to it that the needs and wishes of the people, their call for help or defense, was answered. Sometimes they won out over adversity and sometimes they lost but no matter what the outcome, they persevered.
Now I am sure each of you grew up hearing stories of those of us who came before you and I would like to address that for a moment. Each of those men I named and perhaps myself were the subjects of some of those stories you grew up with but I want you to understand something very important…All of us were just men. None were anything to be considered out of the ordinary. Each and every one of your ancestors were just normal men who lived normal lives. These were lives that included moments of extreme courage, moments of soul filling joy and abject grief…just like each of you, in turn will experience throughout your life.
We, none of us, were anything special except for one thing….How we raised our families and what we passed on to the future generations….you.
So, my Grandchildren’s grandchildren, remember those of us who came before you with a smile and maybe a little pride. Carry on the good we passed to you and remedy the bad. Then, when you are old and see the days of your life coming to an end, pass on a letter to those who will come after you or maybe a series of letters telling them about you and maybe a little about us so that they too might understand better who they are and where they come from.
I will try to write you again, another day and talk about the past so you might use it in your present.