Gilbert Cayetano Huesca (1915 – 2009)
Joan Joyce (Schiavon) Huesca (1928 – 1987)
If you’ve ever thought about writing down your family stories, don’t overthink it or wait until the “time is right.” Just do yourself and your descendants a favor. Get busy and start writing.
Though I have been writing this blog for a dozen years, it took me six years until I was able to write about my parents, Gilbert and Joan Huesca. By then, my mother had been gone for 25 years, and my father had been gone for three. It is not easy to write about someone you love and miss deeply, so I expected to write three or four stories at the most over a couple of weeks.
But first I struggled with all the reasons not do it. The hardest part was the sadness I felt when I sat down to write my parents’ stories. When you sit down to write about someone you miss so much, you risk letting your emotions get in the way and quelching your efforts from the start. While it might be easier to sidestep the sadness by not writing about them at all, it was also healthier to work through it. Moreover, it was reassuring to think there would be a lasting record of their lives, something that could endure, even if one day my memory were to fade.
Other questions lingered: Could I do justice to them? And if so, just how much of their lives did I want to share?
Some people might argue that stories about one’s immediate family are so personal that they belong within that smaller group and should not be shared with others, whether they are more distant relatives or are not related at all.
I would hate to think that our purposes in life are limited to those within our circle. I hope that the effects of our actions and life’s lessons are more like the far-reaching rays of sunshine that nurture, warm, strengthen, and illuminate those who seek to know us better.
My parents were my rays of sunshine. I owe everything I am to them. I am proud of them because they lived loving and good and exemplary lives. I decided that if their descendants were to know and love them too, I needed to share them and not trust their stories to survive via oral histories.
That made it easier to get started. Once those fingers hit the keyboard, it felt as though the floodgates had opened. I spent well over a year writing about them and their legacy of love.
How many times have I longed to see my mother and father one more time, to feel their love and their touch! I will have to wait for that day, perhaps for a while. Meanwhile, writing about them has given me a way to reflect more deeply on their lives and feel their love in other ways I did not anticipate.
The philosopher Kierkegaard once said that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward. In our quest to navigate life’s winding roads to find understanding and grace in our own stories, we can learn much from the people who went down those roads before us. We may find that we are echoes of some of those people not only by our physical characteristics but also by way of our behavior, mannerisms, values, and choices – sometimes good, sometimes bad. And we have the luxury of choosing whether to follow their path or blaze new trails.
Writing about my parents has helped heal some of the sorrow of losing them. It also has shown me that even when we lose someone dear, they will never be completely gone but will always live within us.
If you happen to be one of the “echoes” of Joan and Gilbert Huesca and are reading this years (or even decades) from now, I hope these stories have helped you know them better. I hope you will see the best of them in yourself. I hope you, too, will feel blessed as one of their descendants, to be part of this amazing and loving family.
And if you’re not related at all but are still reading this, I hope you will find something here that inspires you, gives you hope, or makes you smile. Maybe it will get you thinking about writing down your and your own family’s values, struggles, and triumphs, for yourself and for your own loved ones. You have so much to share. Imagine what a gift you could give!
Believe me, the rewards will be grand.
6 Thoughts to “Echoes of our Ancestors”
This is a beautifully written piece that struck many responsive chords within me.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Liz. Thanks for stopping by!
A thought provoking post, sensitively written. My parents died in 1989 and 1991, and I found that writing about their lives somehow brought them closer to me – and more appreciative of the situations they faced.
Ah, yes, and sometimes you can learn even more about them when re-reading those stories than when you first wrote them! I’m so glad you’ve experienced this, too. Sue. Thanks for stopping by.
This is such good encouragement to write the stories — our memories, Linda. It’s true that our emotions can get in the way but I always find that writing helps ease the pain and sorrow of loss, or any emotion, for that matter.
Thank you, Nancy. Writing can be an act of healing, for sure.