Usually when I blog, it’s to share a favorite link or a technique others may find useful in their research. Today is just purely sentimental...
There is an old Mexican proverb that says we all die three times; though I’m sure many cultures have their own version of it. The first time is the actual death. The second death comes with our funeral and burial. Our third and final death occurs on the day our name is last spoken on earth. I find the sentiment behind this adage greatly appealing. To me it means that in spirit, my ancestors are still here with me. I think of them and speak their names often. They certainly feel close as I visit their final resting places, or pass by their former homes and fields.
Some versions of this proverb contend our final death is the last time our name is spoken by someone who actually knew us in life. I find this interpretation much too limiting. After researching my family for decades I can tell you they are as real to me as the family members I personally know, and I feel great affection for them. A feeling of serenity comes with knowing I am a link in a long and ongoing chain; that these people are connected to me and I to them.
Perhaps it’s a touch of mysticism from my Celtic blood that causes this saying to resonate with me; I admit I am more attached to my Irish ancestors than the others. Because we share the same Catholic faith or I inherited more of both their physical and emotional traits? Because the only Grandmother I knew was my Irish grandmother? Certainly, to my father must go much of the credit for the love I have of my Irish heritage. When I was small, he told me I had the map of Ireland on my face, which seemed like the highest compliment one could be paid! I certainly had the Irish freckles across my nose back then. It was he who played the Irish music, danced his own unique version of an Irish jig and taught me to take pride in my Irishness. Nature or nurture, or most likely a combination of the two, who can say? I only know those refugees from a famine racked island will always hold a special place in my heart.
Long before I ever heard that proverb I knew they should not be forgotten, that the stories of their lives deserved to be told, and it was my duty and privilege to tell them. Even as a child, I was the cousin sitting at the feet of the older relatives as they reminisced, asking innumerable questions about how they lived “in the olden days”. Hopefully, in the years to come some grandchild or great grandchild of mine will read what I have written of those long ago relatives, speak their names and mine, and the chain will go on.