finding your roots

Grandma, my favorite girl.

Peggy Douglas Rinehart August 31, 2013

Lovin’ the stories on finding your roots and I’m looking forward to next season.
I’m beginning to appreciate that it is difficult to know self with knowing personal history. Here is a story about what I’ve learned recently about my maternal history.

According to William Wordsworth we can “find strength in what remains behind.” I have found strength in my grandmother’s herstory; her history and her stories.
In the beginning, her history may have been of the times. I’ve learned from a cousin that when my great grandmother died (1863-1899), my grandmother (1890-1973), at the tender age of eight, raised her brothers and sisters with my great-great grandmother’s (1849-1921) help.

Her middle story took place in four walls. When my aunts were young they lived on a farm, in a house that consisted of four walls. There was no roof. One of my aunts remembers “waking up with snow piled up on her blanket.” This aunt also remembers a time when one of her older sisters had a baby. So, my grandmother’s daughter was in labor. My grandmother went over to make herself some tea. My aunt remembers seeing her mom standing there with the teacup and suddenly a baby cried. My grandmother was so shocked; she threw that teacup up in the air over her head and rushed to her daughter. They never did find that teacup.

At the end of my grandmother’s life, I was fifteen. She witnessed her daughters living a better life in the city. I witnessed her daughters’ united devotion to their mother. I took my place at my grandmother’s graveside and I continue to find strength in what remains behind; the herstory of a mother, a midwife and a grandma.

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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