There comes a time in your life when you get curious about who you are. Where your ancestors came from and what part of the human gene pool you belong too.
You hope if you are a bit of rebel like me, for intrigue. Colourful characters that you can, perhaps, relate to and blame for your less than stellar traits.
My son has been asking about our family tree. He recalls a project from grade school where he made a tree and listed his lineage. It was pretty easy to do on the maternal side as my dad was a genealogy buff and did tons of research for the LDS church. The paternal side is a bit more challenging as not much has been done to record and share those bits of the puzzle.
On occasion, after my mother in law had a few liquid bouts of courage, she would recall her experiences in Austria during World War II. She had been sent to a farm with her twin sister to work for food and boarding. It was not a time she remembered fondly. Listening to what happened to her mother and father was heartbreaking. It didn’t come to the surface often for her. I was always willing to listen though and comfort as best I could. My father-in-law’s family is from Germany. I don’t know anything about them but hope that my son can chat with his grandfather to get some bits of the story.
My dad has an interesting heritage. His father was born in England and was one of seven children. Their parents were a butler and maid for a wealthy family. The research tells a tale of betrayal. The butler ran away with another maid and left my great grandmother to fend for herself and the children. She did what most women in that circumstance did in those days and dumped the kids on the steps of the famous Barnardo’s orphanage.
This is where the trail gets murky. The family was scattered across the world. My dad was able to track down all but one of the siblings. My grandfather and his brother landed in Eastern Canada. My grandpa was a character I never met unfortunately. I learned that he had been a Grand Master Free Mason.
My mom’s side of the family was a bit easier to keep track of. She was a Campbell. My grandpa’s family helped bring the pioneers to Western Canada from the Southern States. Further back there are some skeletons in the closet that depending on whose side you take are memories of victory or complete betrayal in the Scottish highlands.
The famous cry of the McDonalds “The Campbells are coming” is even a folk song that depicts the betrayal of the opposing Campbell clan. My history connects to the House of Argyll and Robert the Bruce. The layers of betrayal and greed are interspaced with lessons on survival and family preservation at all cost. It would take years and books to untangle those webs.
It’s a big family, according to Google there are hundreds of thousands of Campbells roaming the earth today.
At my grandmother’s funeral, 350 direct descendants spilled out of the church. We used to have an annual family reunion in the mountains. Camp was like a small city full of relatives of every kind. It is a pleasure to be part of such a prolific clan even if there are some sins of the father to atone.
It’s worth knowing how you got here and the recipe within you that helps to enable who you are.
I know I am made up of warriors, gardeners, artists, leaders, followers, thinkers, enemies and friends. It defines my DNA but it doesn’t define how I manage that gene pool within me.
I admit it has some effect on your natural curiosities. I wondered why I loved to immerse my hands in dirt and develop my gardens. In the past my people were stewards of the land. Designing and lovingly taking care of large public and private gardens. Carving out a living in the forests, eating and preserving the wilderness here in Canada and the Highlands of Scotland.
My grandpa Campbell was an artist who made some of his living from selling his paintings while supporting his own thirteen strong clan. I share his love of art and of collecting things. I inherited some of his coin collections and a few of his paintings which I cherish. I spent my childhood roaming the mountains and forests with my grandparents and extended family. It was a childhood of dreams.
Like the clan of the Campbells, I feel most free and spirited in the mountains and most at home living a nomadic existence.
My son is a data scientist. He has a passion for research and validation of information and data. He took his family tree and is now dissecting it to understand its roots and also try to prove it’s validity. He has suggested some discrepancies in the Argyll threads and has brought forth some interesting theories on a different Campbell line. I am encouraging him to follow his instincts and report back to me.
Perhaps we will learn that our story was different from the present existing version or help to squash any doubt of who we came from.
Either way, I am intrigued to find out. Somethings we don’t need to prove as their are pictures to document the way.