What is your father's name?
Good follow-up questions that easily go with this question are:
When and where was he born?
Is he still alive? When did he die?
What is your most vivid image of your father?
What are some of the most valuable lessons your father taught you?
Is there anything that you wish you had asked your father but haven't?
I have also included at the end of this post 90 questions to ask your father (if you can).
I know this post comes a week after Father's Day. I should have planned better. I almost moved this question up but I felt it was important to first sketch out what you know about the members of your family before you begin connecting them together.
Last week at my new job I went to a two day training called The Big Picture. The concept of the training was to give an overall view of the entire company, its goals and mission. During the training Dennis Brimhall, the Chief Executive Officer, spoke about how some see our place in our family as a link in a chain. This is something I said in my 52 questions W3 post. Dennis went on to say that we are more like a link in chain mail.
Our family relationships are much more intricate than a straight line. It is important as we begin to learn and document our families that we have this view. The most important people in our lives may be in a straight line like in a pedigree tree but we are all linked together an supported by a much bigger family. As we work to find and tell the story of our Family History we must always keep this in mind.
As we build our family tree we need to remember to document our relationships. Most of us know who our father is. We have known this all of our lives but for our descendants this knowledge will not be firsthand. I have many photographs of me and my father. I also have my birth certificate where he is listed as my father. These documents and sources will prove valuable to future generations. As we ask our 52 questions we must remember to try and find sources and other documentations as well as stories and pictures about our relatives. (see end of this post for questions to ask your father.)
In terms of western culture we usually receive our surname from our father. Surnames are also know as your last or family name. A given name is usually our first name or the name we are generally called in casual conversation. When we enter data into databases or websites we are usually asked for this information. I have found that this tradition is not recognized throughout the world or even throughout the western world. My wife's grandfather is from Holland. There are many common surnames but they were not required until after 1811.
In parts of Asia the family name is placed before the given name. Many Spanish descendants have compound surnames that take both their paternal and maternal names and put them together. There is a modern movement in England and America to also use compound names separated by a hyphen.
Almost all of the surnames in my family tree are from European origin. Surnames come from several different origins. First there are occupational surnames. These are names given to people based on their trade or occupations. You may have heard many of these names like Baker, Carpenter, Cook, Fisher, Gardener, Potter, Smith, Taylor or Weaver.
My surname, Trotter, is said to be an occupational name. A Trotter is said to have been a messenger or letter carrier. I assume they rode horses to preform their duties because there are also horses named Trotters. They may have also walked to preform their duties because pigs feet are also know as Trotters. Whatever the usage, occupational surnames have roots in many different European countries and languages.
Second, there are surnames based on personal characteristics. These names are are less common than occupational surnames. Examples of characteristic based surnames are Little, Long, Gladman, Good, Hardy, Lover, Short, Strong, Tall, Wise and Young. Within this category are also names like Black, Green, and White.
Place names are the third group or surnames. Place base surnames include Darby, Hamilton, Lincoln, London, Quincy, and Trent. These types of names provide clues to where a family may have been born, lived, worked, or owned land. It may also point to the name of a farm, hamlet, town or country. The next group is very similar to place names however they are tied to more generic geographical features and are less likely to lead to a specific place. Geographical surnames are like Brooks, Bush, Hill, Lake, Stone, and Wood.
Patronymic surnames are passed down through a male given name. These names are made by taking the father's first or given name and adding the ending son. Scandinavian examples of these names are Anderson, Harrison, Jensen, Larson, Olson, and Peterson. Because of this naming system there could be several people in the same place with the same surname that were not related. There are also matronymic surnames derived from a female given name. These names were generally given when the child was trying to be separated from their father for some reason. These names are like Madison, Emmott, and Marriott. In some of these cases the ott ending is representative of daughter or dotter.
Scottish clan names were also adopted as surnames. These clans live in certain areas of Scotland and northern England. Many of these clan names are well known; Armstrong, Campbell, Douglas, Grant, Hardy, and MacDonald.
|Trotter Family Crest or Coat of Arms [English]|
The practice of devising, granting, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and heraldic badges [www.internationalheraldry.com/].
I have not put a lot of stock into heraldry. Not because I don't necessarily want to, but because it is confusing to me that there are so many different options and claims of official crests, tartans, and shields. I don't want to choose the wrong option.
|Trotter Shield [Scottish]|
The above Coast of Arms is a basic English design. I like the colors and the lion. The shield to the left is red with three boars heads. I am not as visually draw to this shield although something inside me tells me this is my true family shield.
courser (a kind of horse) caparisoned (draped) with an argent ( shield with the boars' heads) and gules (red neck piece). The motto In Promptu means in readiness. The argent in the background is the tartan of the clan.
A tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in many other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland. Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartan]
This family crest to the left is a combination of the English crest above and the boards head shield. There is a tartan in the background which as you can see is much different than the one above and below.
I will continue looking and I suggest that you do as well.
QUESTIONS ABOUT HIM
1. How are you most different from your parents and grandparents? How are you the same?
2. How did you and Mom meet? Why did you marry mom?
3. How would people who knew you in high school describe you?
4. If you could go back to one day in your childhood, which day would that be? Why?
5. What was your favorite movie or book when you were a kid?
6. What was your favorite movie or book when you were my age?
7. What is your favorite movie or book now?
8. Do you have a favorite band or song?
9. Do you like ice cream? What is your favorite flavor?
10. When did you realize you were no longer a boy?
11. Who were your best friends and why?
12. Why did your parents give you your name?
13. Why do you live here now?
14. What size shoe do you wear?
15. What is your favorite hobby?
16. What is your favorite National Park?
17. What is your favorite thing to eat?
ABOUT HIS PAST
18. What are some of your earliest memories?
19. Did you ever win or earn an award?
20. Were you ever in the newspaper or on television?
21. Has anything ever happened at a family wedding that you’ll never forget?
22. Have you ever been fired before?
23. Have you ever quit anything before?
24. Tell me a story about a family reunion or family party that you remember attending as a child.
25. What are your best memories of holidays or family gatherings as a child?
26. What are your favorite childhood memories?
27. What did you have as a child that kids today don’t have?
28. What did you want to be when you grew up?
29. What do you remember about the houses you lived in as a kid? Which one did you like the best?
30. What was the hardest thing you went through as a child? How did you overcome it?
31. What was your favorite pet when you were a kid?
32. What was your favorite subject in school?
33. What was your first job and how did it go?
34. When you were a teenager, which family member did you go to for advice? Looking back, was it good advice?
35. Did you (or would you) serve in the military?
36. Did your parents or grandparents ever lose their jobs? What happened? How did they start over?
37. How did your parents change after they retired?
38. One thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?
39. Think of some relatives that have passed away in the last few years. What would they be doing right now if they were with you?
40. What are your favorite stories that grandpa/grandma told (or still tells)?
41. What did your grandparents do with you that you loved? What did they do that you didn’t enjoy so much?
42. What do you remember most about your dad?
43. What do you remember most about your mom
44. What is the best thing that your grandparents ever cooked? What about your parents?
45. What is the most embarrassing thing your mother or father ever did to you?
46. What three adjectives would your grandparents use to describe you?
47. What traditions your father pass on to you and you passed to your children?
48. What was your relationship with your father like?
ABOUT HIS THOUGHTS
49. If you could know anything about our family history or about a relative who has passed away, what would you want to know?
50. Are you living your dream or are you chasing it?
51. Do you believe snitching is a good or a bad thing? Have you ever snitched on a friend?
52. Do you consider cooking and cleaning a woman’s work?
53. Do you have any regrets for something you wish you would have done?
54. Do you think crying is a sign of weakness?
55. How do you deal with criticism?
56. How do you discover new ways to do something i.e. did you brainstorm and put in on paper, did you daydream etc.?
57. How has being consistent changed your life?
58. How important is personal appearance?
59. How much education is enough?
60. How much money is enough?
61. How would you define a father’s role at home?
62. How would you like to be remembered?
63. If you were to win the lottery how would you spend the money?
64. Is there anything that you wish you had asked your parents but didn't?
65. Is there anything you always wanted to tell me but never have?
66. Is there something that you wish you had experienced that you haven't yet experienced?
67. Were you a giver or a taker?
68. What are key ingredients for strengthening a family?
69. What are the three things in life to never do?
70. What are the three happiest moments in your life so far?
71. What are the top three things that you stand for?
72. What are you most grateful for?
73. What habits do you have that are not aligned with your core values?
74. What has been your greatest accomplishment?
75. What has been your greatest struggle?
76. What has been your strategy in challenging your children to do more?
77. What is your favorite joke? Why?
78. What mistakes taught you the most about life?
79. What world events have had the most impact on you?
80. What's the greatest game you ever saw?
81. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
82. What’s your philosophy on fatherhood?
83. What’s your secret to building true friendships?
84. What’s your strategy for taking major risks?
85. Which do you have more of courage or integrity?
86. Which mistakes taught the greatest life lessons?
87. Which was more important to you being a father or being a husband?
88. What was your vision and purpose for your children?
89. Which family member has been your greatest coach in life? How have they coached you? What has made them good at it?
90. Do you believe in God?