Looking for my roots is more than just finding names to place in a pedigree chart or finding the exotic lands they were from. It is a way to celebrate our ancestors’ journey and to learn the lessons they provide us for own personal journey.
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish the adventure of adding one more name to the tree or to find one ancestor (or should I say any ancestor) that was not born in the town of Rincon, Puerto Rico. But as my relatives age (as do I), I relish the stories and pictures of what was important to them. Here are some photos of my family and some of the lessons and values they have given me.
Family – As our family migrated to New York in the 1940s and 1950s, being together to celebrate any occasion was important. The birth of a child, a religious festival or ceremony (being Catholics specific celebrations included baptism, communion and confirmation), weddings and deaths are all common events in the human experience. But seeing who are present and who are not in the photos is just as important. Photos also illustrates the customs as well as the fads. I have a photo of my mom in a poodle skirt that I cannot share due to fear of eternal damnation .
The calendar of Jesus and the last supper (upper right hand side of the photo) is an important artifact as any. [Now if I can only see the source of the calendar. A local church perhaps?]
Children - This is a photo of my cousins in Puerto Rico in 1960 in front of the cake for my baptism. Looking at this photo tells me a lot of their personalities (Who is shy? Who is a ham?) The house is my maternal grand parents home, a very simple wood home. In the upper left side a picture of Jesus Christ, a sign of a religious house hold.
Food – A Puerto Rican celebration would not be complete without arroz y gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and pernil (roast pork shoulder). The wallpaper is classic of a 1950s kitchen apartment in New York (Spanish Harlem specifically), while my aunt’s sheepish and proud grin juxtaposed to my uncle’s (her brother-in-law’s) smile is true to their nature and personality. He, a very jolly and generous soul. She always ready to reply with zinger.
To me these photos show me the true joy in their lives: family, children and food. I have learned that I need to do some more celebrating.
What do your photos say?