Under 'visible distinctive marks' George indicated 'lame in right leg.' My grandfather (George's son) had never talked much about his dad, and my uncle and mom were both very young children when their grandfather had passed away, so not much was known about him in family storytelling. But now we knew that, at age 41, he had trouble walking. I don't know if this was a temporary or permanent condition for him, but that didn't matter to me as I was looking at this document.
Now, I had found an ancestor who lived with with a similar physical limitation, and discovering this actually made me emotional. This man raised eight children. From 1900 through 1930, he is listed as a 'laborer' and 'cement finisher' on census records and city directories - very physical jobs - and we all know there was no such thing as an 8-hour work day back then for working-class immigrants. And he did all this on a bum leg and no ibuprofen. After processing all this, I remember thinking, 'I wish I had known about his life and his condition when I was younger.' If he could do it, so could I.
Not long after that discovery of mine, I started Growing Little Leaves. As a parent, you hope and pray that your child will not have to face too much adversity in his or her life, but you also know that it is unavoidable. Life's not fair. But just knowing that someone else has gone through the same struggles as you have - especially when that person is a family member - gives you both a comfort and a power that is hard to explain.
Kids need to know that their struggles aren't unique. Listen, I understand why kids might not want to hear mom and dad drone on about how they have gotten through life (so far). But maybe a story of how great-grandpa did it will make a connection with them in a way that will help them feel like they are not alone, and that they have the genes within them (literally) to conquer life's adversities.
To read more about how family stories can benefit children in times of adversity, please read the article and research paper linked below:
The Stories That Bind Us The New York Times 15 Mar 2013
Family Narrative Interactive and Children's Sense of Self (PDF)
Family Process Vol. 45, No. 1 2006
This post is part of the Why Share Family History With Children Blog Link Up administered by Nicole Dyer at FamilyLocket.com. Click the image below to read posts by other contributors!