Leonardo da Vinci is attributed with saying, “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
We are genetically linked to our ancestors, but until we start digging into their lives, we little realize how strong the connections can become. It doesn’t matter if they were outlaws, ditch diggers or corporate presidents; their lives begin to matter to us, and we feel emotionally connected. Learning about our ancestors enlarges our lives.
Our friend Steve Curran is a fun guy to know. His wife, Elle, along with a friend, went on a women-only trip to Cuba, so he planned a trip of his own.
A decadeslong convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he maintained contact through the years with a cousin, Jean Poulter, who lives in Salt Lake City. They talked at intervals about genealogy information she had in binders about their Curran family.
He tried to persuade her to send them for him to copy (he lives in Arizona), promising he would do it immediately and send them right back. She was concerned they might get mishandled or lost.
He decided to take a jaunt to Salt Lake City to get the records copied. For a morning, he became “The King of Kinkos,” copying and instructing several employees who were helping him.
His great-grandfather James Curran founded Bakersfield Sandstone Brick Company in California in 1886. He was a very influential pioneer in the area, and his company carried on through four generations.
Reading about the man was fascinating for Steve Curran. In fact, he was so glad to have the information for himself that he copied off three other binders, drove straight from Salt Lake City to Bakersfield, where three relatives still live, and presented a copy of the family genealogy to them.
Animals like their connections as well. On the way to Salt Lake City, Steve decided to visit a young man he had met while on a mission with his wife in Hana, Hawaii. Tyler Westhoff now works for the Redd’s Ranch in La Sal, Utah.
That evening, Steve went out with Tyler to unload cattle that had been delivered from Green River. As the cattle came out of the livestock transporter, the night air was filled with a cacophony of cattle calls.
One small calf, who evidently hadn’t thrived and was weak from the stressful ride, was left in the trailer. Not wanting to lose it, Tyler went to work. Holding the squirming calf between his legs, he ran a tube directly into its stomach and squeezed the bottle until the job was done. As soon as he removed the tube, the calf jumped up and began calling for its mother.
The rest of the herd was noisy and bawling. Steve, on an ATV, and Tyler, on a horse, began rounding the cattle up, driving them to the Redd’s Ranch. Adding to the din as they neared the stopping place were more cattle calling from a herd that had been unloaded earlier.
Tyler said, “Just keep going, and pretty soon the racket will stop.” To Steve’s amazement, amid all the chaos, the mothers and their calves in the two herds began pairing up, going this way and that. Once they were paired up, they settled down. Quite suddenly, all the cacophony ended and a peaceful lowing began. They had reconnected.
Cattle and family history are not all that different. We need someone who loves and cares about us, and our ancestors need us to care about them. When we’re connected, our road seems clearer and the stress of our life’s journey is eased.