April 5, 2020 by Kgalalelo
I woke up this morning thinking about a distant relative that I’ve seen only once in my life when I was still in school. She had come to visit for a very short time, perhaps a few hours and I was told that she was married to an Irish man and was living in Ireland. I never knew about her and all these years have been thinking that she was a relative from my father’s side.
It turns out that she’s my late mother’s relative. The funny part is that it was my mother who had attended to her every need and entertained her and it never crossed my mind that she was doing it for her own family. The day that she came to the house was the day she was going back to Ireland and my mom had bought her a present, a beautiful squishy teddy bear and a huge shawl.
I had been watching a WW I movie yesterday and the setting was in Belfast, Ireland, hence the recollection. I called my dad to ask who that relative was, I could barely remember her face or even her name and my dad didn’t remember a thing either.
I suggested that he find out from my aunts if we have a family member in the UK and he insisted that we didn’t until I explained about the gifts that my mother had bought and that’s when he recalled relatives living near our home from my mother’s side and one of them indeed lived in Ireland. The sister lived in the neighbourhood apparently, and whenever the one living overseas comes home to visit, she would visit my father too but he never mentioned anything as he didn’t see the need to, until our conversation.
My father further told me that when that relative was a little girl, she lived with my parents for a while. I guess there will always be things that we don’t know about our families’ history and things that our parents don’t think are necessary for us to know.
It made me think about the importance of retaining maiden names for women. Many people might look at this differently though, but the fact that we lose contact with distant relatives, sometimes the only thing that would bring us together is the knowledge of the family name.
As my father and I were talking and piecing details together about my mother’s relatives, he mentioned that the sister to the relative who lives in Ireland worked at my place of work and I thought to myself, she might have recognised my maiden name if she knew.
Perhaps she would have asked or tried to look me up but because I go with my married surname, there was no way she would have or suspected that we are related and now I have a chance to dig a bit deeper and find out about her. Quite interesting indeed.
I thought about my cousins who are now married and go with different surnames now and because of that, we might lose each other somehow because of a change in surnames. I could need assistance from the CEO of some company only to find that it is my very own relative, even closer than I think.
I had a friend that I studied with at university and we were quite close at that time and we grew apart as we went separate ways, I came to Bloemfontein for work and later got marries and she went into politics. She was always passionate about politics and her first job as I recall was being a secretary of one of the major political parties in the country.
When I heard that she was appointed mayor of a town, I wanted to contact her, she hadn’t changed her surname yet as she was not married but the red tape in government made it difficult for me to speak to her. I’m not sure if her secretary gave her the message or my numbers and when I tried to call her mobile phone, it would be answered by the office.
We lose important contacts as times goes on but it is a shame if we lose our connection as a family. I love family and I must say that I know more about my father’s family than my mother’s. On her side of the family, our closeness goes as far as the intimate family is concerned, her sister and brothers and their children and some cousins and that’s about it.
It is imperative to me that my children should know where I’m from and know everyone in my family. In January, we buried my cousin, my uncle’s daughter from my mother’s side and after the funeral we spoke about how we need to have a family reunion on my mother’s side. I thought the idea was fantastic, I can’t wait because in that way, I will be able to meet relatives I don’t know.
I want to know every single one of them as we could be passing each other in the streets without knowing one another. It really shows that in actual fact, we are all related in this world. As families extend, though we lose contact, when we have to draw family trees, they go way back.
I looked at the genealogy of Jesus in the Bible in the book of Matthew, first chapter, and it gives His ancestry right from Abraham. There are so many people that follows, a total of “fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah” (Matthew 1:17). It has been more than 2000 years since the ascension of Jesus to heaven and there are many people from His family who came after Him. It snowballs just like it does for all of us.
Family is important, I would never want to lose it; it is a big deal to me because I come from a close-knit family. There are many who don’t have the luxury of having families and knowing where they come from, which can be difficult. I often watch a programme on television called “Long Lost Family” and I feel the pain of those who don’t know theirs. Children who were abandoned by their parents when they were born and now as adults, they long to know where they come from, who their relatives are and when they reunite with those relatives, there is so much joy.
I feel happy for them, though I don’t know them but because we are in fact all connected, the emotion of happiness is one. The book of Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one”. It is the Spirit of God that connects us no matter the distance.
In God, there’s no distance nor time, whether you watch someone on television or they are here with you, hence prayer reaches all corners of the world. You can pray for someone across the world and they can receive healing in an instant. This is the wonder of God. He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient, this is what we know about Him. Our God is good.
It is time to connect with loved ones, our very own families, remembering where we come from. It is also time to thank God for all our families and pray for them that He may continue to protect and provide for their daily needs.
It is not easy in the midst of the pandemic and some of us are fortunate to talk to our loved ones through video calling, in that way, we can see them and it reassures us that they are alright. Not everyone has that privilege, however, there are many more ways to connect, even if it’s just a two-minute phone call.
We should be grateful for the grace of being with the ones we live with; we often see each other after work including our children, they spend the entire day at school and now, they are with us 24/7. We are basically home schooling them currently. Others have family WhatsApp groups where they keep in touch with their families. These are privileges that God has given us and therefore, we need to be grateful and count our blessings.
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. & The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible, Copyright © 2012 by Crossway. All rights reserved & The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ (2004). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers. The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB Copyright ©2016, 2018 by Bible Hub Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
If you love to explore, observe and feel appreciation for God's goodness in your life, then you will feel right at home on this site.