Spending time with older generations and family members, allows others to establish relationships, learn about where they came from, and understand history. Those who were interviewed shared their thoughts on the importance of establishing meaningful relationships with their “living ancestors.”
Rebekah Ollis, a freshman from Hawaii majoring in peace building, further explained the terminology, “Well, an ancestor is anyone who I’m related to that lived before me.
“Living means they are currently alive, so they could be parent’s grandparent’s aunts and uncles. All of them who are alive are my living ancestors.
“Living ancestors are very important because they help us learn about who they are and where they came from. When we know more about them, it helps us to realize who we are. They give us wisdom and even confidence.”
Sabrina Domrique, a sophomore peace building major from Oklahoma, explained, “Living ancestors are vital to the preservation of culture and traditions. They can share all of the wisdom they have accumulated through their own living ancestors and experiences.”
Joshua Hansen, a sophomore from Utah majoring in computer science, agreed on their importance before stating “they know the most about the most recently deceased ancestors. Those are going to be the closest relatives they knew, and so not only are they going to know more about them, but they’re going to know more about ancestors even further down the line that you may not know about.’’
Domrique shared her thoughts on maintaining a relationship with her living ancestors. ‘‘When we connect with our living ancestors, we can realize we don’t have to go far to learn family history.
“Not only are we utilizing our living ancestors for family history work, but we are strengthening bonds with our eternal family members and creating new stories and memories to pass down.”
Ollis shared her thoughts on how through ancestors we can better understand history. “When we connect with them, history becomes alive. It can help us realize the significance of what our ancestors went through and how that affects us today.”
Hansen explained the influence his grandparent had during his childhood. “I think all the stories my grandparents used to tell me about when they were kids kind of gets me interested in our past. Where we came from, what things were like back in their day, and even before them. It puts us on a trail that gets us further and further back into our family history. Those are kind of our first steps backwards.”
He then shared his favorite story, “My grandmother is a really amazing woman. I remember my parents had to go on trek once so they had to leave me with my grandparents for them to babysit me, and so I can remember my grandmother taking me out to feed the ducks and stuff like that. It’s a very dear memory to me.”
Ollis remembered what she learned from her own grandfather. “One of my favorite stories is one my paternal grandpa told me. His mom died when they were reasonably young, but before she died, they used to love to ride the elevated train around the city just for the sake of spending time together. It’s not a grand story, but to me, that’s why it’s so precious, because he tells me the big stories, but it’s the little ones that help me really see who my grandpa is, and what his values are. Those same values are the ones he instilled in me.”
Domrique shared some of the things her ancestors taught her and some of their personal advice. “I have learned from my great-grandparents that you’re never too old for anything. My favorite piece of advice I have gotten from one of my living ancestors is to never let material things get in the way of what’s important, because the world is going to keep on changing.”
Hansen shared a lesson taught by her grandfather, “The last conversation I had with my grandfather before he passed away was actually the best conversation I had with him. The advice he gave me before he passed away will always stick with me in my mind, and it’s really important to me. It is to find a wife and get a good education.”
Ollis shared what advice has impacted her the most, “My living ancestors have taught me the importance of family, the necessity of hard work and the essentialness of fun.
“The best advice I’ve ever been given was actually given to me by my father who received this same advice from his father. ‘Break the cycle, because you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone.’”
Domrique said, “I have learned from my great-grandparents that you’re never too old for anything. I hope to carry on the cultural traditions that my living ancestors carry out in their daily lives.
Hansen expressed what he hopes to carry on from his ancestors. “My grandmother, who recently passed away, is one of the greatest examples I’ve ever seen with family history work. She’s done the family history for the whole family going way back. Not all the way back, but extremely far back and so it’s a really good example to keep it going as time goes on. Especially since you don’t really think of family history much during the day-to-day stuff.
“Setting time aside to do the family history work was something she was really good at that I want to do personally as well.”
Ollis shared what she hopes to carry from her own relatives. “When I have a family of my own, I want to carry on the tradition of reading and singing together. That is something my dad’s family used to always do together, and he used to do it with us. I have every intention of passing it on.”
Hansen, who recently lost some of his family members, offered some parting words of advice. “Cherish them while they are still alive and around, because you know all the good things, especially here on earth, come to an end. Pretty soon you’ll find that your grandparents have passed away and you have to make sure you spend as much time with them as you can. Build as many memories as you can, because not only can they take that into the Spirit World, but you can keep them with you for the rest of your life.” •