Since my post yesterday, I’ve been thinking. I wonder if some will read my last piece and say to themselves, “I wish I had a heritage like that.”
First of all, my parents are not perfect. I know it’s a given, but it still needs to be said.
Secondly, if you look back through my longer heritage, you will see that I come from a long line of rough characters. On my dad’s side, we are a bunch of Pacific Northwest rednecks. My great-great-great-great Grandpa Joseph was a French-Canadian fur-trapper who was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. He found himself a beautiful Indian maiden at the Spokane House trading post and married her. She was of great help to him and in their early years, they lived a largely native lifestyle. It’s reported that when one of their children was sent to an Indian school, he did not know how to use a utensil to eat. He used his hands. Furthermore, my Grandpa Joseph was one of the men who voted against the Oregon charter for Statehood at the Champoeg Meetings. It might be a stretch but I figure he was probably pretty anti-establishment and wanted to keep the west wild, or at the very least, unsettled. He was voted down, and the great migration to the West began to take place. The Oregon Trail was born.
Grandpa Joseph’s son Augustin, or “Long Gus”, is my great-great-great Grandpa. He is said to have been a scout during the Yakima and Cayuse Indian Wars, but we’re not sure on which side he fought. We’ve heard a story that he was in a well-known scuffle over a gun, a horse, and a canoe. And another story that he heroically rescued stranded immigrants on the Applegate Pass in the Cascade Mountains. But the best part of his story, according to my 14-year-old son, is that Grandpa Augustin was struck by lightening near the Dalles, Oregon and died at age 66.
On my mom’s side, they were a little less rough around the edges, but still have their Wild West stories. They were part of the migration from Missouri to Oregon in the 1850s. They settled and farmed the rich soil of the Willamette Valley. My mom and dad get great laughs out of the fact that it is very likely that her side kicked his side out of the Willamette Valley. Sadly, it may have been because of discrimination against my dad’s “half-breeds” heritage. Or equally possible, Grandpa Joseph may have just been very uncomfortable with the increasing traffic in western Oregon. Soon after the settlers came, he moved his half-breed family to the wilds of eastern Oregon.
When my own Dad was in middle school, his parents became Christians. My grandparents were both children of alcoholics. My grandparents were looking for some sense of order in their lives. Building their family the right way post WWII was important to them. My dad says it was quite a radical change when his parents turned their lives around together.
I tell you this because I want to point out that I am two generations removed from that change in my grandparents. I am grateful for my heritage. I believe it highlights the importance of the decisions that we each make for the next generation. By the power of Jesus in their lives, I’ve watched my parents work through a lot of stuff that came down from their parents. My husband Ray’s parents too have a story of God’s redemption in their lives and heritage. Because of their faithfulness, they have gifted us with a healthier heritage.
Returning to the original question: Are you saying to yourself, “I wish I had a heritage like that?” START NOW. Give your children a healthier heritage than you had.
Ray and I not perfect. Ha! Anyone who knows us is very aware of that fact. Our kids will still have to work through stuff that we pass down to them. But we’re starting here. You and I can put our flags in the ground and claim the land, like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the movie Far and Away. Stake your flag and start here, no matter where you are.