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Living for the next generation
bressler color

I am, by my father's admission, a Duke's mixture. "Dad, what the heck does that mean?"

"Well, my curious son, our entire family comes from a rather jaded line of ancestors."

He wasn't that poetic, but it sounds better.

"We are Scotch, Dutch, German, Italian, Cherokee, Jewish and perhaps Gypsy." Since no one had such a marvelous gizmo like a computer, I just took his words at face value. Much, much later on, I have been able to access such genius found on and by golly, there we were!

The Scotch descent was pretty easy, as I could trace folks from the clans of Marshall, MacMillan and McIntyre. The Browns were a bit harder to find. I was told in Scotland, "That side of your family wore brown and were horse and sheep stealers."

I had already figured that out. There was an Italian lady who sang opera at Teatro San Carlo in Naples, which was nice to know. I was very suspicious about the Cherokee side until I happened to visit the museum at GSU and saw that they had a collection of Cherokee clothing belonging to a chief whose last name was Brown. Wow! The Gypsy side has always been a mystery. There were times when Dad said, "If I had only known, I would have shot those Gypsies who left the basket on our front porch."

I wonder what he meant by that?

I think my side of the family has changed the entire process as our daughter is adopted, our oldest son's two children are half Japanese and our middle son adopted a wonderful son who is one-half African American and one-half Apache and a lovely daughter who is Asian. Julie and I feel like grandparents to the United Nations and are we proud!

The fact is that our ancestors — in whatever shape or background — must have been some very tough people. Life — in general and for most people — is very unpredictable and one has to be strong, resilient, inventive and extremely optimistic to survive. Whether we descended from horse thieves or saints is interesting but not germane in this discussion.

I sit here in amazement knowing that I am a product — good or bad depending on the situation — of an unknown history. The one and most important point is that I am here for a purpose. I have and will always believe that no one on this earth is an accident. I say that because I do not believe God creates accidents.

This is not the time or the place to discuss that last sentence. When you are in Sunday School, open the gates and let it fly!

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth ... and God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." God does not make mistakes.

It is at this moment that I have to refer to the Book of Jeremiah and God's words to a young man, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you ... I had a plan for you!"

Don't ask me about the possibility, science, probability or theology. I know what I don't know and I can only accept what I just read. God had a fantastic purpose for this young man, Jeremiah.

Please be patient with me for a moment. When God began the process of creation, He already knew where the world would be at this point in time. In fact, in God's time, there is no past, no present and no future, as it all seems to exist simultaneously. Since thinking about this causes my brain to hurt, I need to move on.

Our ancestors were created for their own time — which they lived out to the best of their ability — and had children for the next generation, and those children produced the next generation, and the process has continued until today and here we are! Are we to be the next Alexander the Great, Van Gough, conqueror, victim, contributor or taker? What is our purpose?

As a child of God, we are to be just that and we are to grow with the wisdom He has given to us, to use the ability He has blessed us with, and to fulfill His plan which is a part of us. God, help me to do the best I can! I know He will!

I hope the next generation will remember me fondly.

Thanks, God.


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