How do our surroundings, our homes, impact our families, our thoughts, our history?
Isn't this what our pursuit of genealogy helps to reconstruct? To make sure that our family history remains alive and known and preserved?
In a poem by Leib Borisovich Talalai, a young poet whose family was from our ancestral village of Vorotinschtina, Belarus, and who was murdered in Minsk (1941), he writes about his family home in the village, "If the walls of this house could talk. ..." When I found two of his slim books of poetry at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, it was fascinating to read his words.
What an image he presented of a home’s talking walls! What if we could access those memories? What do you know about the spaces in which your ancestors lived? Today, many of us move frequently to different homes in the same city, or even to different countries. Sometimes it is a positive choice made for education, a better job; at other times, it has been a forced relocation.
One of Spain’s most famous writers, Antonio Munoz Molina (“Sepharad,” 2006), asks his readers what might be the minimal portion of country, of roots or hearth, that a human being requires? Do these moves contribute to maintaining or cutting ties to our past and to our memories? What about those generations of memories? Do we pass them on to the younger generations?
Does your family history include a move from an ancestral location? What stories were handed down by those who relocated? How have you preserved those memories?
Share your memories in the comments below.