Some Thoughts on My (Our) Ancestry

Many people, though not me, have traced their ancestry back several generations, some back to the 1800s, some back to the 1700s, and some back even further. I'm aware of my paternal grandparents who I knew well growing up, but never really knew anything about their history (though I vaguely remember my grandmother's parents, who must've died when I was quite young). On my mother's side, I know even less. Though I grew up knowing her one brother and most of her sisters and their families, my mom's parents never came to America, and, I believe, died somewhere in Europe long before I was born.

From movies, paintings, and books, it's easy to imagine how our ancestors several generations before us may have lived (assuming we can trust the images we have seen). Perhaps they lived in small villages like the one in the photograph at the top of this page. Or maybe somewhere like this:

or this:

And did Mei-O's ancestors back in earlier days live in a village like this?

We can try to imagine, since recent generations aren't separated by that many years, what our not-too-distant ancestors lives may have been like. Were they farmers? Did they live in small villages? Or bigger cities? If we don't know exactly from (or even are doubtful about) where they came, it is, of course, much harder to draw an image in our heads of their life. And this (because I'm not aware of where my ancestors lived) both frustrates and saddens me a whole lot.

Then one day I thought about this:

All of us, no matter where our more recent ancestors came from, we all have ancestors like this:

Think about it. Many thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in caves and hunted mammoths and other wild game with spears and other primitive weapons. They looked somewhat different from us. They discovered fire. They foraged for food. They fished. They built fires on the ground for warmth and to cook the meat the hunters and fishers brought home. They roamed around, searching for better places to live with more abundant resources. They looked up at the sun and the moon and stars, weathered rain, heat, snow, hail and sleet, wind, and thunder and lightning, and wondered about it all. And they probably didn't live very long. And their progeny were our ancestors too, eventually leading to us today. There is no way you or I would be here today if one link in our chain was broken - or altered. Oh, to be able to trace our ancestry back that far!

We all descended from these ancient, primitive people - and even earlier beings, way back to who knows when, who knows where, and who knows what:

These are our many-generation-in-the-past relatives, our family. Sperm and egg and genes and DNA - and tens of thousands of years, couple after couple, right down a line to us today. I can't help wonder where and how my ancient ancestors lived....