Friday, January 30, 2009

Shepard Family Update, January 30, 2009

Why study history?
There's no future in it.

-sign on a history professor's door

Dear Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello on the last Friday in January of this new year -- a year that I have yet to catch up to. Have you noticed that in each of the messages so far in this new year I have put the date 2008? (You didn't even notice, did you!) I think I am finally "with it" (at least as far as the calendar is concerned).

One of the dangers of genealogical study is that one gets so engrossed in the past, that the present and the future somehow slide to back burners. I remember a sign on a history professor's door at Abilene Christian, put there by some witty student. It said, "Why study history? There's no future in it!"

That makes for a good chuckle, but it's not really true. Especially when it comes to research into one's family. I love finding new information about our forefathers and foremothers. I enjoy remembering those family members who are now gone, whose lives overlapped with mine. I find it important to remember -- or discover -- their values, their commitments, their loyalties, their life choices, their mistakes, their strengths, their weaknesses, their disadvantages, and especially their courage. But to become so enthralled with their stories that we fail to live with courage in our lives is not only a mistake, it dishonors the legacy they have left us.

We are surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses," who faced the challenges of their time with insight, and wisdom and daring. Now to be sure, sometimes they were not up to the task. But the wonderful thing is that sometimes they were. I find it very important to draw upon the best of our family legacy and to live a life that honors their spirit, and does not simply duplicate their particular choices. So as far as I am concerned, family research is valuable, and not just because it tells me about the past. More importantly it helps guide me into the future. But it will guide me well only as I learn from them how to face new challenges in new ways.

I hope that the younger ones of our family today will do exactly that in relationship to us who are older. They honor us best not by making the same choices we have made, but by living with faith and courage, with honesty and generosity, with love and open-mindedness.

This coming Tuesday, Feb 2 is, of course, Ground Hog Day, and the midpoint of winter. But of even greater importance, it is the birthday of Cindy Ann Dillon Shepard, who, along with her husband Gary, live in Oak Harbor, Washington. It is hard to believe that this June she will have been in our family for 30 years!

Cindy and Gary made their home in the San Diego area for the first 24 years of their married life. 6 years ago they sold their small business, Gary retired from his work with the County of San Diego, and they moved to Washington to be with family there. Cindy now commutes each day to work at Schenk Packing Company in Mount Vernon from their home near Oak Harbor on the northern end of Whidby Island. Happy Birthday Cindy!

The first picture I am including (as always, click on the picture for a larger view) shows birthday girl Cindy in the middle, with husband Gary on the left, me in the upper right, mother Maida on the far right, our son Nathan in the lower right, and Gary's daughter Kelly in the lower left. This picture was taken in October, 1981, in front of our home in Los Alamitos, California when we were getting ready to visit Disneyland.

This past weekend Cindy and I enjoyed a visit with Jerry Clark and some of his family from Lubbock, Texas. They were in San Diego for Taylor Publishing Company, for whom Jerry and Susan work. The second picture I am including shows the 7 of us as we enjoyed an underwater adventure at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. In the picture is Jerry and his wife Cathrina in the middle, his daughter Susan Clark Cox, and her husband Andrew and their son Drew on the left, and Cindy and me on the right.

Best wishes to all of you as you continue to cope with whatever winter weather comes your way. In just 6 more weeks spring will arrive!

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