On Sundays, I like to dabble in one of my favorite hobbies, the pursuit of my family history or geneology. This is a very new interest and has proven to be an adventure full of surprises. My maternal grandmother did tell us stories as children, mostly of her pioneer background. She was a modest, quiet person, who sported an unusually regal bearing for her perceived background. In fact, when she worked as a waitress in a small cafe for a time in the 1980’s, a young, up and coming artist sketched her as she sipped her afternoon coffee. A few years ago, my sister attended an art show in a nearby city and found a watercolor painting of Grandma in a stack of canvases for sale. She recognized her immediately and asked the artist about it. The artist told her the story of this woman who waitressed in the small coffee shop and how she was stricken by her unusual stately physical attitude. When my sister told her it was our grandmother, the artist was thrilled to give her the painting as she had always wondered over the years just who the woman was.
It turns out that this unlikely pioneer’s daughter and farmer’s wife harbored the genes of royalty. My sister and I find it difficult to believe that we are the product of such greats as King Henry I and Henry II of England as portrayed in movies and books like Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Lion in Winter, and Beckett. That we were in direct line of Richard the Lionheart from the Tales of Robin Hood. Related to El Cid, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and many more kings, queens and lesser royalty who ruled in many countries spanning the ages from before 400 AD through late 1100 AD. There are other greats also, including John Drake, brother of Sir Francis Drake who did not produce issue or heir. After showing my sister this lineage, she declared, “What happened to us?!” I laughed and replied, “The great European women met and fell in love with the handsome Danish farmers who brought them to America to become Mormons in Zion and that was the end of that.”
However, if you read about the history of these people who ruled the world, you will see that it is not all romance and opulance. It seems to me that royal lives were always precariously in danger, that they were often cold hungry, and ill, and their homes constantly being taken from them. Given these circumstances, I suppose I am genetically predisposed to hardship, but like my ancestors, am willing to don the armor of war and fight for my right to keep what I deem to be mine. Who will join me in this battle against the greedy land grabbers?