Ordinary is Extraordinary

abs star fdp siraphat (268x223)

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net siraphat

My heroes are just everyday people who work hard, are honest and have integrity. ~ Jordin Sparks

Why do we call celebrities, “stars?” I mean, from my perspective, everyone has a light inside them.

Anyone can be famous these days. They don’t have to do anything extraordinary. In fact, they can do something absolutely moronic in a thirty second video and turn into the most sought after person in the world.

My favorite kinds of stories to read and to write are about extraordinary people living what appears to be ordinary lives.

Have you ever seen the television show Who Do You Think You Are? Sure, at first glance it appears to be about a celebrity, but bear with me. The show’s premise is to take one celebrity and dive into their genealogy. What I find fascinating about the show, is that it turns out the celebrity is not so special anymore. They usually find an extraordinary ancestor they (supposedly) never knew about.

Kelly Clarkson’s great-great grandfather fought in the civil war (for the north) and was put into a POW camp with tens of thousands. No food, no water and left to fend for themselves. Most of them died. Obviously, he did not. He went on to become an Ohio state senator. Did I mention that he was also shot in the leg? It wasn’t so easy to recover from a single gunshot wound in those days. I’m not advertising for this show or anything. It just goes to show you who the real person of importance is when you hear such a story.

grmpjim1914 wmMy ancestor, paternal grandfather, 1914. Approximately ten years old.

Marissa Tomei’s great-grandfather in Italy stood up for something he felt was right and was killed as a result.

Chelsea Handler’s paternal grandfather  fought for the German army during WWII. In fear for his family, he didn’t speak out against the Nazi’s and kept kept himself under the radar as a soldier. During the war, he was captured by American troops in the south of France and taken to Iowa as a POW. He was treated better as a prisoner than he was as a German citizen. When the war was over and he was released, he moved his family to the United States.

najo1929 wmMy ancestor, paternal grandmother, 1929 on a boat for a visit back home to Italy. Twenty years old.

Have you ever heard of Eddie Rickenbacker who fought as an American fighter Ace in WWI? I hadn’t, until I received one of those forwarded emails that sounds like an urban legend. I always try to verify these things, and when I did, I was shocked to learn most of the email about him was true. I’ve never read about a man who achieved so much and cheated death countless times.

vfamily1940 wmRomeo & Rofina in front row, my maternal great-grandparents and their six children. My maternal grandmother stands behind Rofina, 1939.

It is all of you who are the extraordinary ones … all of us … not just those few you read about in the line at the grocery store. Do you know of any extraordinary stories about ancestors in your family? What daily chores and activities are in your extraordinary lives?

About Lori D

Observer, thinker, learner, analyzer and writer. Enjoy dogs, cooking, centering, laughing and sarcasm.
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30 Responses to Ordinary is Extraordinary

  1. johncoyote says:

    Thank you for the stories and histories of the past. I like to listen to our elders. If we are lucky they will tell us stories of great and bad things done by our family members from the past. I wish the old timers wrote down part of their life for future generation to remember and know. Thank you for a outstanding blog. I believe everyone should have a family journal. Photos and stories of people here and gone. To be passed on to keep the true history of a family alive.

  2. Aussa Lorens says:

    I wish that I knew more about my family history… I spend a fair amount of time researching genealogy as it relates to some projects I do at work but I’ve never looked into my own history. My family is “broken” so a lot of that information about the past is missing from the information we know and are able to pass on. Still… it would make a pretty amazing project to dig a little deeper.

    • Lori D says:

      You’re right, it would be an amazing project to dig deeper into your ancestry. I’d love to find out more about mine beyond the turn of the 20th century when my great-grandparents came over from Italy. Having said that, Miss Aussa, you have some pretty fascinating stories of your own. I’ve told some of mine in my short story anthology. It proves my point, whether ancestors, or those of us living today, it’s the people living every day lives, not the famous, that are the most intriguing.

      • Aussa Lorens says:

        Very very true. And oh man… I just realized I may need to start covering my tracks so that my future grandchildren’s grandchildren don’t read all of this stuff ;)

        • Lori D says:

          Perhaps, but speaking as a grandchild of great-grandparents, I know some crazy stories about them (see comment to Robin) and still think they’re pretty awesome. :-)

  3. territerri says:

    This is such a great perspective, Lori. You’re right. We should all appreciate ourselves and our families for who we are. Every day, every experience brings opportunities to grow and learn. And most of us will never be famous anyway. Most of the time, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want the pressure of fame.

    I don’t know of any extraordinary stories in my family history. I’m sure they are there, but not much was passed on to those of us still living and now anyone who knew the family stories is now gone.

    • Lori D says:

      Believe it or not, it’s those every day experiences that make good stories. It’s true, that real life can be stranger than fiction.

  4. I hail from a very long line of highly unaccomplished law abiding, reliable, and otherwise essentially invisible people. It sinks in a little deeper every day that I blend in perfectly with my ancestors.

    • Lori D says:

      Law abiding and reliable does seem to be a thing of the past, except for us reliable bloggers, of course. :-) Good to see you Miss V. I’m still having trouble with ‘likes’, and now it seems I’m not getting some notifications about comments. Sigh.

      • As someone with more confidence in the government than WordPress, I’ve thrown in the towel about this disappearing “likes” situation. But that blows about not being alerted about comments. That’s happened to me before, too.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I’ve done years of genealogical research and uncovered lost family stories and then wondered how they could have been forgotten in the first place. Like my great-great-great-great grandfather who, with his brother, was captured by Native Americans as a child. My GGGG gf was “exchanged” several years later and returned to Euroamerican society as a military scout, but his brother “went native” as the expression goes. Then, after a skirmish between the army and a Native American group, my ancestor was called forward to translate. One of the captives turned out to be his brother. What a reunion that must have been for them!

    • Lori D says:

      OMG, that right there is a novel to write. Better yet, it’s a movie! How in the world did you get such detailed information? My family all stems from Italy and came over at the turn of the 20th century. I’d love to find out if any of my ancestors immigrated to Italy from somewhere else. Thank you for sharing that fascinating story about your ancestors. How cool.

  6. Jodee says:

    Oh, you are so right. Every person has his/her own star twinkling inside and outside. Seeing it helps us to give esteem to each other. This is what we try to do with our new comic project, showing esteem and kindness, everyday heroes. Inspiring post, thanks.

  7. WP lost my comment! Very good post..ancestor’s look as if they have good genes to pass along and seems you were the recipient of the “goodness” gene. Very nice way to remind us that we are all “extraordinary” folk!

    • Lori D says:

      Hey there, Linda. Most families, including my own ancestors, have their dysfunction, but they’re still fascinating stories. In fact, I think it’s probably the dysfunction that makes them fascinating. All of those people in the photos are Italians. I’ve got a lot of pasta & garlic in these genes. Heh. ;-) Thank you so much for your supportive comment.

  8. I like to watch Who do you think you are – we have a British version. Family history is so interesting, particularly, I think because of the personal connection. I’m in the first stages of tracing my family tree – I do have an uncle, who died in WWII and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and have photos of my Dad and his mother at Buckingham Palace collecting the medal, but have yet to research why he received it.

    • Lori D says:

      Fascinating to learn about your uncle. I love reading about people’s family stories in these comments. Thank you for sharing yours. Good luck finding more. Sounds intriguing.

  9. robincoyle says:

    Family legend has it that my great-grandfather changed his name to elude a woman or to dodge the draft (in Sweden). Perhaps both things apply. If he hadn’t, my maiden name would have been Johnson, not Lindberg.

    • Lori D says:

      Are you serious? This isn’t a joke? That family legend is comical. I know that my great-grandpa Romeo, yes Romeo, left Italy to find work and then planned to send for his family once he got up enough money. Turns out, Romeo (in the photo), took his time sending for Rofina for a reason. She gathered up the money herself back in Italy, took their two children with her and kicked out his girlfriend when she arrived. Heh. As you see from the photo, four more children resulted in her return.

  10. Family histories makes the best stories. So much “novel material” to choose from.

  11. andy1076 says:

    That’s quite the family history and a strong one at that! beautiful family photos so well preserved, may they last through the generations :)

  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    My maternal grandmother made her way by boat from Germany to the US when she was seven and went blind en route. The consensus was that it was measles. I often think of what a long, hard voyage that must have been. I’m sure the conditions were not great, and then to have your child go blind? Terrible.

    • Lori D says:

      Wow, what a story. What they must’ve endured to come here. Your grandma surely was/is extraordinary, having made it through that struggle to create a life with a family here. I’m sure there’s a lot more to her tale. Thanks for sharing this, Carrie.

  13. Joy Johnston says:

    I’ve seen a few segments of the show and found it fascinating as well. I hope the show’s “star power” helps people get interested in genealogy and preserving family photos and documents. Great photos of your family, thanks for posting.

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