2019/04/05

Who's your mommy?

When I started on Ancestry, I had paper copies of the lineage of my father and mother's paternal families as well as a little information about my father's mother's family, which of course was my her father's family.

See a pattern?

We sometimes know about the people from whom our parents' surnames come. But how much do we know about maternal lines? With rare exception, a father passes his family name to his offspring, and the mother's family name (which came from her father) disappears. It can be difficult to trace maternal lines because the surname changes every generation. And yet I am no more related to the settlers whose names my grandparents bore than I am to any of my other seventh and eighth great-grandparents.

Fortunately, French women, including settlers, did not take their husband's name. If I can find baptismal, marriage, and burial records, the surname will be the same. And thanks to good record keepers and Ancestry, I have found a lot of records.

I trace up the top/left of my Ancestry tree, and it follows what I had on that piece of paper, the one line of my father that leads to the namesake settler. I trace up the bottom/right of my tree and I land at Anne Asselin, a seventh great-grandmother, from whom I am descended via all those generations of women. I can follow the women's lines to reach the original male or female settler or Indigenous woman who married a settler as easily as I can follow the men's lines.

Despite Ancestry's pink and blue default icons (easily replaced), a visual depiction of a family tree is an equalizer between the sexes. I'm chuffed that I can trace matrilineal forebears. In fact, because genetic paternity is (or was then) far more difficult to establish with certainty than maternity, the line of male descent that a surname indicates, the one we tend to cite when we say "my family," might be more about legality than genetics. And it was ever thus.

2019/04/01

Slowly I turn

People say age is just a number, but it's not like deterioration isn't happening. I've been sensing signs of aging since about 60. Your mileage may vary. The last two years of barely mitigated stress certainly did not retard the aging process.

I'm not an athlete, but I've usually been a fairly active person. I walk a lot, climb stairs, and generally try to do things in a more active way even if less convenient.

When I started to feel obvious signs of aging, I thought my body would tell me when I was pushing too hard or doing too much. I thought that little by little I would slow down naturally, be unable to haul as much, be unable to lift weight I had previously. To some extent, that has happened. I don't move as quickly as I used to. But more often, this is how it goes: I do something that seems fine, and later I suffer for it. Not as in straining a muscle, but as in aching in multiple places and getting pain trigger points.

I'm a slow learner, because I keep walking too quickly, hauling too much up hills, and lifting things I shouldn't lift. I don't want to slow down. But then later I hurt, and my body says, haven't you figured this out already?

I'm finally getting it. I'm trying to start off earlier, but sometimes I might just be late. I don't need the extra hurt. When I walk, especially with cart in tow, I try to be conscious of not exerting too much effort and of keeping my legs relaxed as they do their job. It's helping.

Even as my body sends painful reminders, I still find it hard to slow down. Until I retired, I worked with only one short break of unemployment for almost 50 years. The hurry-up habit is ingrained. My parents were not much for "time wasting" either, so I probably got it from the cradle. But I would like to hurt less, and I'm willing to "waste" some time to make that happen.