My cousin Lorene Ensley has compiled a wonderful book about my grandparents William and Hazel Vorkink that she debuted at yesterday’s Vorkink reunion in Payson, Utah. There’s lots of photos and documents and information about these two whose descendants number nearly 400 at the present time. The Marshall Vorkink line is definitely the smallest of the 4 Vorkink siblings and we were represented by Mark and myself and some of our children and grandchildren (and Patricia and Elaine), with my group being Erik, Juliana, Kyle, Rachel, Owen, Kade & Collin. Only Kevin and Tina were missing, which likely makes me the Vorkink Cousin with the highest percentage of my family in attendance. Not too surprising as we all live in Utah.
The event got me thinking about family histories and just how much is enough. Several of my cousins brought additional photos for Lorene to include in her document/book and while these are all interesting, there is a point of diminishing returns where another photo or remembrance doesn’t really add to the core value of the history. In fact, I wonder if by putting in too much information we muddy the waters and make it more difficult/less interesting for the rising generations to wade through. Sure, I appreciate the detail because I knew them and I only have 4 grandparents, and I carry the Vorkink surname. Will my daughters’ grandchildren be as interested in reading a 100 page book about their great great great grandparents? Would they prefer the Cliff’s Notes 5 page version?
I’m also thinking about my own parents and my life for that matter. Each successive generation has exponentially more that could be included in a book, so much so that it is hard to start on the task of condensing my father’s life into a narrative, and he’s been gone 14 years now. What about my sister Lisa? Or my mother, who is still living and of whom there are hundreds of hours of interviews, photos and other documents? No one has written anything about my Hucks grandparents either.
I can handle big projects, even if it takes a long time, and yet I’m a bit overwhelmed here. I do wish I had more of my father’s thoughts and feelings on life, but he didn’t keep a journal and most of what I have are the letters he sent to me in the mission field, full of stuff he did and not what he was thinking. I’ve written some about my life and thoughts in the form of blog posts, newspaper article comments, and the occasional journal entry (long ago.) My missionary journals are too boring for me to go through.
There has to be a balance somewhere. What I noticed yesterday was that the Cousins were excited about the documents and photos they were able to contribute and the process served to bring us together a bit. I will likely put the book up online at Vorkink.com as it is more suited to an easily-updated digital presentation than a printed book.
How would I summarize what I know of my Vorkink grandparents? Well, he was Dutch, loved music, loved the Gospel, loved his wife and family, was good, honest, and a nice man. She was of pioneer heritage, kind, loved education, loved her family, was devout, and served others. OK, so that’s not enough. There are those who believe that eventually we will have a wiki for the average man, a short summary of our lives that includes the pertinent details and representative photos. Maybe that’s where I should start.