The Truth About Who We Are by Douglas J. Brouwer
Brouwer, a retired Presbyterian Minister, decided it was time to explore who he was. He began conducting genealogical research on his Dutch family and submitted his DNA to Ancestry.com for analysis. The results of this search is this book, which is really a letter to his grandchildren, born and unborn. The book itself is short, about 98 pages, and is written in a easily readable style. I found it enjoyable, even though I am not one of Brouwer’s grandchildren, or related to him in any way.
In this book, Brouwer traces his family history, although not in great detail, back to the Netherlands. The point of the book is not to document his family history for future genealogists, but to give his grandchildren a sense of where they fit. He does talk about a few ancestors but only to show how the decisions they made had a profound impact on the family.
In reading the book, you can’t help but start to think about your own family. Who made decisions that resulted in you being where you are? What words of encouragement (Brouwer was encouraged to seek an education and was the first in his family to go to college) were spoken that positively impacted following generations?
It would be easy to try and draw some connection between where the family came from to where it will put future generations but Brouwer notes that that is not necessarily the case. We are all individuals, and while it is interesting, and arguably important, for us to know where we came from, that does not define us. We can each be our own people. The book concludes with a story of a friend who, when asked where he came from, says “I was born a baby”. Brouwer concludes noting that we were all born a baby and are God’s children.
The book has inspired me to pursue a similar task and write a letter for my daughter and granddaughter. I doubt I will get so far into genealogy, but I’ll do what I can.