In the family tree, do I belong in the roots or the branches? Perhaps I’m a lonely apple that fell from the tree, although the seed will not be resown nor regrown. How deep do the roots grow? Well, honestly, I have never been one for that kind of family business. Although it’s good to know where you come from, I don’t see a need to attach myself on the loyalty train. For me it would be hard anyway, with such varied ancestors chipping in to add to my own personal melting pot.
When I was a kid our mom told me and my brother that it would be up to us to carry on the family name–in that, the daughters would only be able to pass on their husbands’ names (a pretty dated, chauvinistic concept which I wish mom could have seen beyond). My dad had three siblings, two sisters and a brother. The sisters had kids, but again it was a husband’s-name thing, and the brother was a swinger who never had kids.
So my brother and I got pegged to be the carriers of the family name. The funny thing about it is that although even at that age I did not see myself ever being a dad, I did feel a bit of pressure around it…albeit briefly. Here I was at twelve years old thinking I needed to have a kid, and a boy at that, in order to carry on some eastern-european name that always felt a bit clunky (it has ‘schl’ in the middle!!). But again, I was able to let go of that pressure quickly enough.
A bit of a sidenote: this was similar pressure (oddly intense, but brief) to the time I thought I might have to follow my dad into business. He tried his hand at his own fence-construction company the summer before I entered the ninth grade. Somehow, perhaps a misplaced comment by my brother, perhaps my own guilt, I had the idea that I might be expected to work in the business when I got out of school. “Am I going to be expected to step into that racket?” went my adolescent brain. “Business and construction and financials! Oh my g-d!” But again, I let that go. Sentimentality is not my forte.
And so it goes with the family tree. It is more of a curiosity for me, an interesting piece of trivia. It’s not something to take pride in and hold myself to. Nor is it something I need to concern myself with carrying on. There are trees and bushes aplenty in this world to prune and water and care for.