“I Hope You’ll All Remember Me,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 70–71
I remember clearly the day I finally finished my four-generation family group records. I felt relief and a sense of accomplishment.
One morning a few years later, I awoke with a strong feeling I had left something undone in my family history and that now was the time to do it. The impression was so strong that it left me unsettled for days. The feeling of urgency grew the more I thought about it, until I decided I should visit Rockport, Missouri, the place my father’s family had lived as far back as anyone knew.
The only time I’d ever visited Rockport had been when I was 11. What would my relatives think of a long-lost family member showing up, looking for family records? But the urgency I felt was strong, so I decided to go through with my plans.
My fears about the visit were soon put to rest. All my relatives welcomed me with open arms and were gracious and cooperative. I was able to interview each one of them at length and to record my great-grandmother’s narration of her life history.
I also spent hours at local libraries, churches, and cemeteries.I found that part of the reason my living relatives had so much trouble getting family history information for me was that most of the records and headstones in the cemeteries were in German, and no one could read them—no one, that is, except me. Because I had served a mission in Germany, I could translate the information and thus uncover many clues and missing links.
I became more and more astonished as piece after piece of my family’s history fell into place. Family lines I had abandoned because of lack of information suddenly began to produce name after name, date after date. I found old photographs of grandparents four and five generations back whose eyes seemed to plead with me, begging for my help.
In the end I obtained enough information to perform temple ordinances for 18 of my ancestors. These were the people whose information I had previously given up all hope of ever finding.
Before my flight home I sat in the airport reviewing my notes and the original documents my great-grandmother had given me. I happened upon a poem written in 1830 by John Brown, my fourth great-grandfather. It read, in part:
My Christian friends, both old and young,
I hope, in Christ, you’ll all be strong. …
I hope you’ll all remember me,
If no more my face you’ll see.
And in trust, in prayers, I crave
That we shall meet beyond the grave.
Oh glorious day, Oh blessed hope.
My heart leaps forward at the thought!
When in that happy land we’ll meet.
We’ll no more take the parting hand,
But with our holy blessed Lord,
We’ll shout and sing with one accord.
My eyes filled with tears as the Holy Ghost whispered that these words from 1830 were written for me. I felt that my family members on the other side of the veil were determined not to be forgotten, and I knew that someday I would have the chance to meet them in that joyous reunion John Brown wrote of so very long ago.
I learned that we can play a vital part in our ancestors’ eternal progression. By following the prompting I received, I found that a way was opened to me in my search, and now I know we are never really finished with our family history responsibilities.