Think of our blood and how old it is. I traveled to South Carolina last November, and traced genealogy back six generations. I found Columbia’s First Presbyterian Church and their graves were next to the main street, which means the relatives must have been one of the first families buried there when the church was built.
I’ve never set foot in a Presbyterian Church because we went to the Episcopal Church. But I went into the First Presbyterian in Columbia, thinking it must have been that part of the family’s mainstay after the Civil War ended. The relatives were involved in Columbia’s burning by General Sherman.
I found wills and Confederate records in South Carolina’s research rooms. My grandma’s grandfather fought with Wade Hampton’s 4th Cavalry unit, and I found his pay stubs. I’d never known anything about the man until I started looking into the blood.
His granddaughter was my grandma, and she lived with my family in California. She never mentioned her past to me. After she died, I had to learn about her blood on my own, since I’m the last of that side of the family. No one else cares about my great grandma being one of the ten children. She died of “dropsy” in her twenties. Her parents were in the Columbia graveyard, but I couldn’t find hers. My grandma chose to give her body to science and hang as a skeleton in UCSF’s medical school. We have a thank you note to thanking us for “her contribution to science”. When I go to my just reward, I’m going for cremation, and let’s go for a boogey board ride out in the Pacific Ocean. Take a look at the ocean and think of me.
Being the last breathing blood of my branch puts things in a different perspective than my dead relatives, however. I still have a chance at life. I chose to overcome personal issues which made my life difficult, and my life is great. I did not live through the Civil War and fight to keep my way of life. But I have made my contribution to the blood of the family, and my two sons are mixed blood: one Mexican father, and one with Portuguese/Slavic blood. It’s incredible how it keeps coursing, isn’t it?
I’m glad that I know where my people rest, even though it’s not my place to be there and rest with them. It’s good to know. Looking at those graves and the end of that family side makes me realize how finite this world really is, my number of days. We all know that, of course, but it’s for real.
My adult children with mixed blood were raised in California and each live in different states. The whole nation is our home and belongs to us. We are Americans, which means more than one place. It’s like a state of mind.
North and South Carolina are part of the thirteen colonies. Californians came by any vehicle they could, searching for gold and new beginnings, letting go of the past. No reason to hold onto the past, because we all start over in this state. Except we still carry our blood, don’t we? Blood tells our story, and we may never fully know it.