Chapter 34 2012 - A Thousand Years

“A thousand years. What will our lives be like in a thousand years?” I wondered aloud.

“We’ll be dead,” Angela stated matter of factly. “We’ve got fifty, tops.”

I did a quick calculation. “Fifty-five, at least. But I didn’t mean us, specifically. I meant us as human beings. What will we be like?”

“We’ll be lucky if there is a place for humans. Look at the earth. Global warming, corrupt politicians. Economic collapse. Failed relationships. Overpopulation. Air pollution. A TV season that sucks.”

“Bright and cheery this morning, eh? But I’m serious, where will humanity be like in a thousand years? What does 3012 hold for us?”

“It depends on your outlook. Will there be a steady decline for everything that has happened, or will there be greater heights to achieve? I’m thinking decline.”

“It seems to me that not long ago you felt the very opposite. Yes, there are declines, but there’s always something brighter ahead. What happened to the attitude?”

“I guess I watch the news too much. It gets you down.”

“Then hope for a better future means turning around the hopes of everybody else. Don’t listen to the news. It’s all just sensationalist hogwash. It’s what they want us to hear, but not what’s really happening. Look at history, how often have we heard about doomsday being just around the corner, yet here we still are. Some are better off, some are worse off, but it all balances out, and the world continues. And it will for another thousand years as well, I’m sure.”

“Do you think people in 1012 asked the same question? What will 2012 be like?”

“Do you think they even thought like that?”

“I’m sure some did. Why else would they have set up institutions that were meant to be perennial? Churches, governments. Some fell, some rose to prominence. Look, even some of the structures from thousands of years earlier still exist. It’s a cycle.”

“Who will see that we do last another thousand years? The Government? I don’t think so.”

“The solution to the future might be to look to the past. Did they consider that everything was doomed? Was there hope? Was there anticipation? What if our ancestors gave up all hope, abandoned their desire for a family? We would never have been born!”

I paused in thought. “I wonder who our ancestors even were. Do you think there is somebody famous somewhere along the line?”

Angela pondered a bit, “I never knew of anybody before my grandparents. I mean, I knew there were, but we never really talked about them. It would be nice to know more. I don’t really have any clue at all about the Samson side of the family at all. When my grandfather died, nobody ever really talked about it.”

“Then it’s time we found out about them,” I stated. “We will find your roots.”

Together they got onto the computer and Googled the Samson name. “Over sixteen million results. This might take awhile.”

“Where were your grandparents from?”

Angela tried to recall the rare story she heard as a child. “I think they came from Indiana, or maybe Illinois. One of those ‘I’ states.”

“You’ll have to be more precise than that.”

Angela thought some more. “Indiana, definitely Indiana. Somewhere near the Kentucky border, I think.”

I Googled “samson indiana.” “That barely pared it down a bit. If fact, it’s even more. It will be a thousand years to get through all that.”

Try “Samson and Barrett together. I think that was my grandmother’s maiden name.”

“Here’s something about someone named Samson that killed someone named Barrett. In indiana.”

“That would not make a happy marriage. We’ll skip that one. Beside, that happened only a few years ago. Not relevant.”

“Ok. We’ll look for something in the early 1900s. He Googled “samson barrett indiana 1900.”

“Only two hits! Payday!”

They looked through the census records that came up, but there was no combination of Samson and Barrett to be found.

“Are you sure they were from Indiana?”

“I know they lived there at one time, but try Kentucky instead.”

Again, only two hits, but one of them was the same census document. “This other one looks promising.”

They scanned through it, and though it seemed to have a number of family members and their pictures from the earlier century and even before, nothing indicated any them to have a relationship to their own family.

“There has to be a key to finding something about your family. They didn’t just get dropped off by an advanced civilization form the stars, now, did they?“

“I was thinking the same thing. Maybe so.” But both decided to dismiss that idea as ridiculous.

I took out the 1900 restriction. Millions again.

“The name ‘Sampson’ keeps coming up. Maybe the family changed it?”

“The only story that I’ve ever heard was that we were descended from Samson in the Bible. I doubt that’s true.”

“Well, let’s make the assumption that ‘Sampson’ is also a family name and see where that takes us.”

Googling “Sampson Barrett Kentucky.”

“Here’s a Sampson that married a Barrett!” the excitement of discovery began to rise, until they discovered that it happened in 1965.

“Unless my grandparents were time travelers, I don’t think that would be them.”

“Oh, but what if? The stories they could tell.”

“They’re dead.”

“Maybe they traveled a thousand years in the future, maybe they knew where humanity was going. Maybe they set the course of history themselves!”

“They weren’t time travelers.”

“OK, let’s try 1890.“

“They weren’t even born yet. Try 1920. That would be more in the right range.”

The search paid off, and they found a Marriage Index covering the correct dates. They scanned through the dozens of pages, and finally found the key entry. The marriage of Edward Sampson and Hillary Barrett was recorded in New Albany, Indiana on January 18, 1924. “Success!”

Angela was so excited, she couldn’t wait to call her mother Annette. “Mom, we found online records indicating that grandma and grandpa were married in Indiana in 1924!”

“Of course they were married in 1924,” Annette replied. “We celebrated their wedding anniversary for many years. We have pictures of their wedding. What’s with the excitement?”

Angela’s excitement waned, “You mean we’ve been online for hours, only to find that you had this information all along? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, dear, I didn’t know you were asking. What else do you need to know?”

“What about grandma’s parents? What do you know about the Barretts?”

“My grandma Barrett died when I was a teenager, but grandpa Barrett lived to be eighty. Let me think. I believe that was 1965. You were about eight years old.”

“I don’t remember him at all.”

“Well, he didn’t live here. He still lived in Indiana. His health declined after grandma died, and he never traveled much. You never got a chance to meet him. But I have a lots of fond memories of the two of them.”

“What about before them? Your great-grandparents?”

“Well, let’s see. Grandma Barrett’s mother was born in 1869 and her father was born in 1863. And his father before him was born in 1835. He fought in the Civil War.”

“How come I’ve never heard any of this? Didn’t you think it was important? A Civil War hero as an ancestor?”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to declare him a hero. Sure, he fought valiantly, and our side won. But there was such a cost. He had a brother that didn’t make it.”

“Is there more?”

“On the Samson side we can trace it back to the Revolutionary War. Before that, into England. Some lines suggest that we go all the way back to Charlemagne. I guess that’s why your father always called you his little princess.”

Angela was stunned to learn there was so much family history that she had never discovered. Charlemagne traced back more than a thousand years before. She never knew that she had such a deep history.

When she told I of the discoveries that she had made, it was I’s turn to be a little forlorn. “My roots go back four generations at best. I have heard of my great-grandparents coming in from Europe back in the late 1800s. That’s as far back as anyone knows. Why was I cursed to be an immigrant?”

“You were born in this country. But everyone is a immigrant to a certain extent.”

“I’m an American, but can hardly prove it. Third generation. Impressive. You go back dozens. And hundreds before that, probably.”

“Look at it this way. We are here now. We are here to stay. We have three children, two grandchildren, probably more on the way. The family will grow. Only a few years from now you’ll be a great-grandfather yourself, then a great-great-grandfather. At one hundred thirteen, I think you might even be a great-great-great grandfather. Those children will look back seven generations, and then many of mine as their heritage. You may even discover more about your ancestors in Europe. Look at a thousand years out. That’s fifty generations. By the time 3012 rolls around, you’ll have been responsible for thousands of descendants. Each one with a little I Mall blood running through their veins. Each one carrying a little bit of music. Who knows? Perhaps future world leaders. Perhaps great scientists. Perhaps a musician that will even outdo you. Perhaps a builder of greater amusement parks that you could even imagine. Perhaps explorers in space, the first to set foot on a distant planet. Maybe time travelers. Maybe they’re already here. Maybe you’ve encountered them in your life. Maybe they helped you be what you’ve become. “

I pondered the possibilities of what the next thousand years would become. Where his legacy might lead the world. Where everything depended on him and his success. But then the reality set in, but it was not harsh.

“We are all in this together. For us to see another thousand years and beyond is the responsibility of everyone alive today. Everyone must do their part to make this a better world.”

“That’s the idea,” Angela agreed.