Choosing an ancestor… or being chosen?

This picture is a photograph of part of my family, taken in 1927, somewhere near Presteigne in south Wales, by the border with England. I'm not entirely sure who all of them are, just that they are all related, by blood or marriage, to the two people seated at the centre: Jane Davies and Thomas Price -- my mother's mother's mother's parents. 

It's a picture that sits on my ancestor altar, and when I was thinking about an ancestor to work with, as part of the ROOTED programme, it was an image I turned to for inspiration. Oddly, despite my reverence for these ancestors of mine, I don't feel a strong (or any) sense of connection with them... except for one of them: the person sitting to the left of Jane Davies, with a child on her lap. 

She just strikes me as so... different. Her hair. Her face. Her expression. All of them say to me, "I'm the odd one out."

I relate to that so strongly. However odd my family is, I feel like I'm the weirdo. However marginal the communities are that I am part of, I feel like I'm on the edge of them. I have never felt that I fit. And that is the sense I get from that one person in this picture.

Some of the people in this picture are identified on the back. When I was making the decision to work with this person, I was under the impression that her name was Myra -- because I'd got the names on the left and right of the reverse mixed up. 

In fact her name is Florence, shortened to Flo. She is my Great Great Auntie Flo, and I actually remember her, just a little.

I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when we visited her for high tea, in the traditional Welsh style. We sat in the dark, formal sitting room. The coffee table was covered with a white linen tablecloth. The tea was served from a large tea pot, delicately decorated with colourful flowers over a white base, into a matching set of tea cups and saucers. And in the centre of the table was a three-tiered cake stand, piled high with small sandwiches, but mostly with scones, tea cakes, Victoria sponge, and much more, that Auntie Flo had baked from scratch that day.

I've never had a tea quite like it, before or since. It was one event, but it clearly made a deep impact on me. It impacted me to the extent that when, back in July, as part of my preparation for ROOTED, I was putting together a version of my family tree to print out and place on the wall of my office, I included Florence on it as the only person three or more generations back who is not in a direct line of ascent.

My Great Great Auntie Florence has been there, watching over me, through the whole process of ROOTED to date. So, did I choose her as the ancestor to work with, or had she already chosen me?

That question warms my heart. I feel wrapped in Auntie Flo's love and care, just as she offered me love and care through tea and cakes, nearly 40 years ago. I brighten, and my spirit lifts at the prospect before me of getting to know her and her story through the ROOTED process.


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