I have always been interested in family history. All of my kids have a family name, and I was named after my great grandmother. I know the stories of my ancestors and have found great strength in them. Their stories are also my stories. Their stories show me that I’m not alone.
Both of my grandmothers passed away on July 24th. My Grandma Spiekerman passed away 14 years ago. She was a true pioneer. She was one of the first lady Marines and was always very proud to tell the story of how she chose the Marines over the Navy because green was her favorite color. I have many memories of Grandma reading stories to me, making up obscure rules, and sitting in her rocking chair, always reading.
Gram passed away 9 years ago today. She was one of the most loving influences in my life. Gram loved her family fiercely. All of the grandkids felt like the favorite, and that’s how she wanted it. Because I felt loved by her, she was the only one I would listen to when I was about to make a terrible choice.
Fannie Ann is my Great Great Grandmother. Unfortunately, I can only find a very fuzzy picture of her. I first read her story five years ago, right after I discovered that my husband and children had a life-threatening condition. Fannie Ann was left to raise three young boys alone, after the sudden death of her husband. She is described as an anxious woman. She would gather her boys in the middle of the house when there was a thunderstorm, no matter what time it was. Despite her anxiety, she was able to support her family and do what needed to be done. She passed away at age 46 when her boys were teenagers. When I first read her story, I didn’t see her as the weak and anxious woman that was portrayed in the stories. I saw her as incredibly strong. I could feel her pain because it was my pain. I could understand her anxiety and her fear of more loss. I felt a connection to Fannie Ann, and I know she has helped me in the past 5 years as I have dealt with that anticipation of loss, and then the loss itself. Her story is my story.
Margaret is my 4th Great Grandmother. She sounds like a very tough woman. In fact, there was a newspaper article published about her that highlighted her toughness. She was physically strong, but she also demonstrated emotional and spiritual strength.
She immigrated to the US from Wales, and then came with the pioneers to Utah. She was the first white woman to spend a winter in Coalville, Utah.
Her husband Edmund was ill, so much of the care of the family and responsibility of providing for the family fell to Margaret. Edmund died at a young age, leaving Margaret with 6 young children to raise on her own in a land that seemed dangerous at the time. She worked hard, protected her family, and was very resourceful. Two of her children died of diphtheria, and still Margaret went on. Margaret’s strength gives me strength. Her story is my story.
I have read a lot of family stories. They all talk about the factual highlights of the person’s life. They don’t say much about the hard things. No one talks about the dysfunctional patterns that tend to be passed from generation to generation, but I know that they are there. I am doing my best to honor my ancestors by helping to break those chains. My ancestors give me strength, and I do the same for them and for my own posterity. My story is their story and their story is mine.