Family Identity

2045 Words 9 Pages
Identity is a powerful concept that shapes humanity’s perspective of the past and constantly re-forms the present moment. Each person experiences a unique amalgamation of memories that becomes a part of the individual’s psyche and identity. From the emergence of Homo sapiens nearly 200,000 years ago, ancestry has remained a vital element to understanding the collective experiences of humanity. When asked the question, “Who are you?”, the answer lies buried in the past of descendants. The actions of these long dead ancestors inexplicably shape the present. In attempting to piece together my own identity by probing into the recorded history of the Berry family, I confronted this question consistently as each new piece of information I discovered added to the scarce amount of knowledge I possessed about my family tree.
On August 25, 2016, a mere handful of days before the beginning my third fall semester at Russell Sage College, I received a text message from my mother. She informed me that my grandfather was gravely ill, and that I should pray for him. A few hours later, she texted me to let me know he had passed away. I was unable to attend his funeral because of the beginning of the school semester. When I discovered that a family history paper would be a part of this methodology course, I was at a loss.
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My mother’s mother died in 1997, approximately two years after I was born. As a young child, I grew up knowing my father’s mother and that extended part of the family before the rift between my father and my uncles began. My maternal grandmother, Kazimiera Biernacki, has a vital part of my history that comes alive even though I barely knew her. My maternal grandfather, Czeslaw Biernacki, died on October 16th 2001, just over a month from the 9/11 terror attacks. I was only six years old. I spoke with my mother, and her account provided valuable oral history of my past (though a few of my mother’s details were

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