Remembering Emily: an anniversary

Visiting Emily's grave on the 127th anniversary of her death.

Visiting Emily’s grave on the 127th anniversary of her death.

Yesterday I went back to Symonds Street cemetery; this time with two wonderful women friends who also wanted to remember and honour Emily Keeling (and all the other victims of domestic violence) on the 127th anniversary of her murder.

We brought flowers to lay on her grave; we took photos to share with our networks. We left our tokens of love and remembrance and an unspoken promise to remember not only Emily, but all of the victims of domestic violence.

Most of what I have left to say about the experience of remembering Emily is not really family history, so I’ve blogged about it elsewhere. But I do want to add a final thought.

Writing about Emily Keeling has reminded me how fundamentally good people are. Since my first post about her, so many people – men and women – have told me how moved they have been by her story. So it was really special for me to be able to share the anniversary with two such dear friends.

As I grow older I treasure friendships more and realise that, particularly in our modern world where we may be physically and emotionally estranged from family, friendships often provide the bedrock of our existence. For family historians of the future, really understanding the lives we are leading now will involve mapping not only the ties of blood and kinship, but those of friendship too.

A challenge indeed!

On ancestry in the making

On ancestry in the making

I’ve been posting about “family history in the making” and then I read Helen Tovey’s blog post on “becoming an ancestor”. It’s made me think about how important it is to document the present (and recent past).

Today is a particularly appropriate day for such thoughts as it’s my son’s 15th birthday. He is my only child, so his birthday is not just a celebration of his life, but of his father and I becoming a family rather than a couple.

I sometimes wonder if our pleasure in that doesn’t almost outweigh the boy-child’s enjoyment of presents, cake and devoted parental attention for the day. And that got me thinking about his day.

Naming Day, Thomas Alexander Gray.

The boy-child with proud parents and god-parents.

We’re not religious, so a christening was out of the question, but when he was born, I remember thinking that it was important to celebrate the significance of his life to us in some way. It took a while to organise (10 months), but on 17 January, 1999 we held a naming ceremony for our baby boy. Continue reading