Sunday, May 29, 2011

A quest for immortality?

Allegory of immortality by Giulio Romano
Today I was watching one of my favorite television programs: Craft in America. It is a series on PBS that explores craft, craft artisans and craft techniques across America. This particular episode delved in to the message artisans try to convey through their work and featured glass artist Beth Lipman of Wisconsin, among others. I was extremely taken by one comment Lipman made. She described how creating art allowed her to try to reach immortality.

At first I was taken aback...immortality? That is rather pompous. But then I took a moment to really think about the idea. Immortality does not only refer to lasting fame, but also to unending existence. Isn't that what genealogists work toward every day? Perhaps not consciously, but by trying to trace our family and preparing products for sharing with our living relatives we not only create a type of immortality for ourselves, but bring our ancestors out of obscurity with their own form of life after death.

My great-aunt Bruna McGuire, was a family historian. She co-authored at least two books about our family lines and also wrote a weekly newspaper column for the local Lexington, Missouri newspaper. Would I have ever really known Aunt Bruna without her genealogy interests? I may have seen photos of her, but I would not have really known her. Proof positive that she lives on...even though she passed forty years ago.

So I am officially on a quest for immortality. I pledge to do my best to bring my ancestors their own bit of unending existence and perhaps a little for myself as well.


Tony Timmins said...

I wish I had a ancestor who had an interest in family history! All I can offer are some words of wisdom from the great Englishman Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

"The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality"

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see"

Jay Swamps said...

Great post!