Perhaps it was inevitable that Cora became interested in her family tree. With her children grown up and relatively independent, and the possibility of grandchildren on the horizon, she began to delve deeper into the history of her family connections. In many ways this was made easier by technology, with a treasure trove of information now available online, but there was also a lot of guesswork and misinformation so Cora took her time and verified details as far as possible before adding people to her family tree.

Meeting other researchers within her family and online helped to fill in gaps and flesh out some of the stories that were part of this shared heritage. Some aspects could be confirmed through certificates, police reports and online newspapers. Cora particularly enjoyed tracking down details to explain some of those family myths that persisted through generations. These were like whispers from the past, changing subtly or sometimes substantially from one generation to the next.

Cora could track the arrival of one branch of the family tree to the landing of the First Fleet in 1788, and there were records across the United Kingdom and parts of Europe back to the 1600s. Other researchers claimed they could trace back to the 1400s or earlier still, but limited records were a challenge.

What fascinated Cora was going to places that her ancestors had been, where they had lived and loved and died, and feeling the slight tremor of connection, as if particles of the past could be felt in the present. And there was the delight and intrigue of looking at old photographs, and of seeing echoes of her ancestors in current generations of her family. The way noses, lips and facial expressions carried through the years. For some, there was the legacy of less appealing traits, misdemeanours or the fracturing of families over time, repeated generation after generation, like some hard-wired code of conduct that emerged despite improved living conditions and opportunities.

It made her wonder how future generations would regard those that had come before, and if they would take the time to consider the extraordinary genetic legacy that each of us is born with and carries throughout our life.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: headstones on Norfolk Island