Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Ending of Family Trees

Today as I reflect back to September 11, 2001 a day etched into the minds and hearts of many Americans, my sadness overwhelms me as I think of generations that will never be.

It also makes me mindful of all the past wars, civil uprisings and needless acts of terror worldwide in other countries where thousands upon thousands lost their lives. Needless, senseless killings, along with destruction of land and livelihoods for those who managed to survive.Years and years of wars, that seem to ebb and way with time.

Have you personally taken time to sit silently and think about your own family name and its place in history? As generations come and go, a family surname can pass into oblivion in just a few generations. For example, if you are female and have no brothers, your family surname dies with you generation. If you happen to have a brother, but he has no male children, the surname also dies with him. If your father has brothers, who have only daughters or sons who do not have sons, the family name dies with that generation.

For example, my father came from a family of five siblings; he was the oldest of the four sons and a daughter. Of the four boys, my father has two sons, two of his brothers have a son, and the other brother had all girls. Their sister never married, but of course if she had, the surname would have ended anyway.

Of my father’s sons, one has never married and my half brother did marry and has a son and a daughter. His son has never married. Unless something changes this will be the end of the family surname on my father’s line of the family.

The one uncle who has a son did marry but never had a son, so that ends his line. The other uncle who had a son, we have lost track of and we do not know if his son ever married and had any male heirs.

Now you can see how a family surname that had been around for hundreds of years, tracing back into Germany and Prussia is about to become extinct. Out of a family of four boys, there are now only two possible heirs to carry the name.

I also have a half-brother from my mother’s second marriage. He has the ominous distinction of being the last male to carry the family name. When he dies, his father's family lineage dies with him because he only has daughters.

So once again, my mind wanders back across the years gone by, thinking about all those lives lost, not to natural causes but to man-made ones; of the generations that will never be and the people who could have been. All of the industrious and inventive people who comprise our world that we will never know because they either were killed senselessly or never were born to begin with.

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