On the way to Devon for our holiday, we stopped off in Cheddar to see the Aged Ps. Phoebe doesn’t see these grandparents as much as her other ones and it’s lovely to see them together. Phoebe’s grandma gamely played hide and seek with the rambunctious toddler. When Phoebe couldn’t find her, my mum started singing. The next time Phoebe hid she started singing too. Such cuteness made up for the inevitable tantrums of a two year old.
We looked a bit through our family tree that one of my Twitter followers has kindly researched for me. I am very pleased to have ancestors called James Pratt, Andrew Cockburn, Ann Cuming and most impressively George Raper. I mean I know the eighteenth century was a different time, but that must have raised some eyebrows back then. Suddenly Herring doesn’t seem like such a bad surname.
My favourite ancestor by name though is Donkin Dover from Westmoreland who lived from 1745-1820. He sounds like quite the dude.
As I lay in bed I thought about those previous generations and the new ones - my parents recently became great grandparents themselves and it struck me that our lives are less a family tree and more a family sea. When we’re young we stand on the shore, feeling that we are the product of all these millennia of copulation, but as our lives progress we begin to paddle in the water and before we know it we’re up to our waists, looking at the children, playing on the shore. And soon enough the water is up to our neck and then we are engulfed in it, along with all the ancestors before us. Some of the bodies floating around us still have names, but as you continue on out into the water the mass of those who have been are forgotten. Soon enough we will be lost in that ocean of the past. It was a morbid thought, and I had quite a vivid vision of it as I tried to sleep, but it’s not necessary a bad thing. I am happy to step back and let the new generation enjoy the sand and the sunshine, unaware that it will all fly back and soon be corpses floating at the bottom of the sea with Donkin Dover and the ancestors before him who no longer have a name.