#52ancestors in 52 Weeks- Week 3- Longevity

This week’s topic for #52ancestors is “Longevity”.[1]

Hello kind readers. I need to dash off a quick post so I can get to the Mother Ship early enough to later claim I spent “my entire day” scrolling through and squinting at miles of 18th-19th century German church records, some of which are in Latin. This is not fun and I expect full credit for it. I don’t speak the language, neither of them. And I can’t read the script, even magnified 20x. But, I’ll stop whining now and get on with “Longevity”.

We measure our lives in many ways: our wealth, our health, the love we give, and the love we take (love given will always = love taken per that wise man Paul). We compare our upbringings, our educations, the things we’ve learned, and which skill makes us a particular kind of hit at cocktail parties. But longevity usually doesn’t factor into those conversations except among or when about the elderly and little kids. Between those goal posts and once you get past the legal milestone ages, how old you are, how longed you’ve survived, doesn’t matter much. When was the last time someone (other than the doc) asked, “How old are you?”

She asked us *what*!?!?!

She asked us *what*!?!?!

So discussions of longevity tend to involve our pets and our computer hardware. How long will Fido be our best friend? And when should we really start doing back-ups? But those discussions are more about life expectancy and are expressed in ranges. Longevity is defined with an exact number. How long did something or someone actually last?

In genealogy, we strive to attach three dates to each ancestor. Birthday, date of marriage, and date of death. That’s the persona trifecta without which we have brick walls that require spending long hours in the dark cursing our choice of Spanish in high school. Everything else in addition to these three dates is icing on the cake, right? I’ve actually heard it said that once you have BMD, everything else is scrap booking. (Harsh! I know! I shall not reveal which of our sage teachers spoke these vile words.)

Longevity then is simply the amount of time between the birth date and the death date. You’ll find it spelled in great detail on ancestors’ gravestones. 45 years 7 months 6 days. Someone actually did the math, on paper, and someone paid to have it chiseled. Most family tree software programs have a tool that does the same thing, so you can record the length of a life down to the day.

But what does longevity reflect about a person or the lives they led? Genealogically, zillions of things! But why do we really want to know that number? Because it’s the age to beat! It is what’s possible, what’s in your genes. I rejoice at my kinsfolk’s outstanding life spans. Way to go third great grandpa Jacob! Awesome job, Grandma Vera! And if those ancestors could live to such old age prior to antibiotics and continuing medical advances, surely we can all hit 100. Think about that. On your fiftieth birthday, you’re probably only half-way done! Woohoo! Am off now to the films and my long life to come.

17533_old-couple-elderly

Me and Randy in about 45 years, right?


[1] Amy Johnson Crow, “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks,” Amy Crow Johnson:Professional Genealogical Services (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/ : accessed 9 January 2018).

Categories: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018, Genealogy
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