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Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Heritage

I have certainly done a lot of reading on the internet.  I skip around to various topics from the daily news, to genealogy, and researching European culture.  My latest focus has been on how European's live and how they perceive Americans.  The hope in doing so is to try and understand more about my Irish and German roots and their philosophy about life.

In my German family, simple living and that approach to life has been handed down by each generation.  My aunts and uncle in Napa, California, are my link to the past.  A past in which they knew and were brought up with grandparents who were our original German immigrants.  Those immigrants came from simple times with basic needs.  They worked hard to satisfy the basics and succeeded in doing so.  They did not want or long for much more.  Their reward was in their hard work, praise to the lord, and shared good times with family and friends transplanted from the old country.

Even with my own grandparents, I recognize that they did not desire many material possessions.  My grandfather was from Irish Catholic descent and my German grandma was from the line that I mention above.  The desire for technology did not exude from them at all.  When they purchased a car, it was out of need and not luxury.  When they purchased a television it was out of a desire for daily entertainment but not an excessive amount.  My grandparents never had an answering machine, VCR, DVD player, or even a computer.

My grandfather (Richard J. Flanagan) lived to be 88 years old and passed away in 2000.  He had only gotten Cable TV during the last 3 years of his life because reception from the roof antenna had waned.  He also finally got a gardener for his yard.  He was not a believer in having someone else maintain his yard when he could and had a passion for doing it himself.

As I look back on my relatives that I was so close to, I realize that their simple ways enriched their lives.  They did things for themselves and did not complicate their lives with lots of "things".  A lot of what they learned came from their immigrant relatives.  Those immigrants were Europeans who worked to transplant their lifestyle here to the United States.  They did so quite successfully.  Later and present generations of my family may not be able to say that their lives remained so simple, yet enriched.

My ancestor immigrants on my mother's side of the family were also big on education, reading, and writing.  It was distinctly important for every family member to read and be able to write letters of correspondence.  My great grandfather, Herb Borchers, wrote letters, a diary, and needed to be able to read music and lyrics.  He was in the church choir and played the piano and organ.  It can be very challenging to learn songs if you can't read and write.

In my Flanagan Family, it is clear that knowing how to read and write has been a tradition going back to at least 1773 (and before) when my ancestor, Richard Flanagan of Termonfechin, made his first entry in the farm accounting books.  He could certainly read, write and do both well.  He also passed this tradition of learning along to his descendants.  My own parents always stressed the value of an education and I am only now realizing how necessary it is in life.

As I explore more about my heritage, I will journal about it here in my blog.

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