One of my hobbies is genealogy or researching family history.  It fascinates me how people come together, finding a glimpse of their lives whether through a family story, newspaper clipping, or document.  I can spend hours lost in the past and digging through old documents, visiting cemeteries, and searching online.  

What's the purpose of this?  Part of it helps me know who I am, where I come from, and how I got here.  Another part is my way of honoring those who have given me my foundation.  Strong women, determined men are a large part of my history - like most other people.  

By the time I was twenty, all of my grandparents and my father were gone.  One of my cousins had passed as well as an uncle.  Death seemed to cling to my life for a time.  It helped to form my beliefs about how life should be lived and ended.

There are funny stories to be heard - like how my great grandfather was teasing my great grandmother and wouldn't stop so she stabbed him with a fork.  He learned not to tease his Irish wife so much.  However, in our family, it's led to a family threat every time - we hold up a fork and remind whoever is annoying us - we know how to handle the fork.  

There are sad stories of a couple who traveled to and from China who lost four children in their travels and ended up divorcing in the 1800s.  Loss can tear apart people even those who have the strength to explore and live an adventure.

Honoring these people starts with finding out about them, sharing the stories I learn, and recording it for the next generation.  It also involves small things like displaying my grandmother's crocheting or putting a silly picture of my grandfather on one of my books.  It's about remembering who they were, what they survived, and drawing whatever lesson I can from their lives.  

With Samhain approaching, I find myself thinking about those who have passed.  This is the time of year I think of them, feel them near me, and do more for honoring them.  Honor them how?  I think of them, remember them, and talk about them.  

With the harvest, I think of my dad and how he always worried about the crops being bountiful enough to get the family through the winter.  His concern for the family and the success of his goals - farming goals - are some of my strongest memories.  Good or bad, he kept trying each year to improve, to make the crops better by working with nature (or cursing it) and by learning more about his craft.  This reminds me to do the same with my current life goals.  I'm not growing crops but I do have goals each year - I think about what I've accomplished and how I need to move forward.

With my grandmothers - they were fiesty, strong women who didn't blindly obey their husbands, even during an era when wives did.  I look at rules, practices and try to decide - is this useful?  If it is, I probably won't fight it but if it isn't, I'll look for a way around or a way to change it.  

My grandfathers were so different from each other.  One was stern and somber while the other was fun and loving.  From them I try to take the lessons of each of their personalities and find a middle ground.  I guess this is where finding balance in my life comes in.  I look for the midpoint and try to hover around there.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much.  

There isn't a scary mask for me during this time of year but there is a looking within and reflection on those who came before me as I learn, grow, and honor the past and the builders of my foundation.