Rewriting the Persevering Pilgrimage

By Evelyn Dastrup Miller —

It has been suggested to me, being your average, LDS, person-on-the-street member of the family, that I share some thoughts on this web site about my “experiences” in doing genealogy. When this was suggested, I said, “Sure. When I have some experiences I’ll let you know.”

“Write about that aspect, then,” was the reply, “because that probably makes you like just about everyone else, which in turn will make your words more mutually felt.”

Sharing a commonality of warts with a lot of other people doesn’t necessarily make mine more sightly, but if by exposing and examining mine I can help others who share them deal better with their own, well, here goes. So, “No, extremely diligent, dutiful genealogist Mother of mine, I have not followed in your footsteps.”

I have pioneer stock on both sides of my family, great family organizations on both of those sides, and tons of genealogical records that have already been compiled on both. Some people are daunted by being the only member of the LDS Church in their families; the responsibility setting them a sole and lonely climber on a massive, frontier mountain of ancestor-saving. Whereas my mountain has its being in a massive, sedentary stack of someone else’s work. I search for the trailhead, embarrassed that I’ve been this way six or eight times before and can’t remember the path I’ve been each time shown, and resenting, too, the fact that I must climb rather than build upon the mound. (I gnash my teeth at work duplication.)

Shall we take courage in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? I’m certainly a genealogical tortoise, but some unkind person has injected a much more disheartening impediment to the story, scrawling in the margins how the tortoise tripped and flipped time and time again, spinning and tottering on his back, waiting for someone to come along and tip him aright. No just “slow go” for me. —Still, that perseverance thingy wins out in the end, though the author of my book hasn’t written that part yet. He hems and haws over such an ending, holding forth that tripping and tottering are no description of perseverance. The holy story of perseverance tells of constant, straight and streaming pilgrimage by the bloody-footed faithful.

Well, who ever you are that keeps perpetuating this account, maybe the meaning of perseverance can include just starting over, and over, and over, and over…… never succumbing to the chagrin of countless stalls and turning the ignition apologetically in the middle of a busy intersection where from all four corners come the impatient honks and stares of my ancestors. And, I imagine, from God himself.

Being someone who keeps a ready flagellate near my bedside– should sleep bring me too much peace of conscience, the mere thought of such a story, it being my story, brings on a nearly incapacitating funk, hurling me into the eternal vortex of failure to funk, to more failure to more funk. Well, be gone, funk! I’m going to start over, and maybe over, and maybe over. Maybe the only failure would be sitting, blocking the intersection with no forward intent, my head pressed miserably and motionless against the steering wheel. And maybe there really are no honking horns, just a patient Driver, knowing an ending I do not, sitting kindly back behind His wheel waiting for me to turn the key one more time, and smiling that I will. …No matter how many times that one more time is.

Evelyn Dastrup Miller

daughter of Merrill Dastrup

Son of Peter Dastrup

Son of Hans Lorentz Dastrup

Hey, I know who my great grandfather is without peeking at my pile of papers!

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One Response to “Rewriting the Persevering Pilgrimage”

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