Dear Adlam Relatives –
As many of you know, a few years ago, I dusted off Grandfather Bert Adlam’s autobiography, to edit it in a (hopefully) engaging and inspiring format that might help transcend not only its purple-inked ditto page medium, but also its readability. My new version of it was posted to my personal blog page (www.notJUSTawifeandmom.com ), where I shared it with all of the relatives and cousins whose contact information with me was current; I was confident that it would be shared even more widely, from there.
Shortly after that time, Martha Leary reached out to me by email and we corresponded with one another about the autobiography project. I enjoyed learning that my own journey into William Albert Adlam’s past had deeply inspired her, as well. Even more wonderful, was learning that her terrific husband, Jim Leary, offered to help her piece together additional parts of our common Adlam ancestral history. Jim surprised Martha with a generous and true gift of love – a trip to England, where they endeavored to explore, first-hand, some of the places referenced in Grandpop’s autobiographical text.
Somewhat ironic and thought-provoking, as I read back on my exchanges with Martha, were these lines that she wrote in a letter, following her adventures across the pond:
“My father had given each of us Adlam kids a copy of it [the autobiography] long ago. Like a lot of things, I had good intentions of reading about my heritage, but as the saying goes… ‘the best laid plans of mice and Martha’. My life got in the way.”
Martha was a sweet, beautiful and loving person. She was a good soul and humble role model for others. In my view, her “life” didn’t get in the way as much as it probably lighted the way, although I doubt she knew that. Her debilitating illness was, indeed, the thing that “got in the way.” Her illness got in the way, in an awful way… and it did so way too soon for her and for those who loved and cared about her. Heaven acquired a true angel in every sense of the word, when Martha left this earthly realm.
Martha knew that Bert Adlam didn’t put his life story onto paper in the last chapters of his life merely because he wanted everyone to know the logistics and the particulars of where he lived and when he lived there. Had Bert Adlam wanted a soapbox or a scoresheet, his recollections would have, most certainly, taken on a different tone. I think that Martha and I both read a more poignant message: that we are each created to have meaning and to lead uniquely meaningful lives. Meaning is not determined by our relative stations in life, nor is it an outcropping of the individual circumstances by which we are confronted. It is made of our faith and our virtues; our meaning becomes our legacy to one another. It is important that we are honest. It is important that we are grateful. It is important that we don’t make excuses. It is important to act with class and dignity, even when we don’t have two nickels to our name. Think about it. As a boy, Bert Adlam was up close and personal with the people and the places of English royalty. Yet, there is not a hint of resentment about his lot in life as compared to theirs, even though he and his parents were servants to them. That’s because William Albert Adlam knew who he ultimately served with his life – and that is where he found meaning.
I believe that Martha was touched by her grandfather’s life story, for all of the right reasons. As you read Martha’s words from her own trip to England, you can see what priorities filtered up to the surface for her: the church where her Grandfather was christened, the parish where he was confirmed, the site where he said his vows to his first wife (who sadly died, before he later married our grandmother).
We don’t want to know about our ancestors or our relatives simply to know the origins of our physical DNA. We want to know how they lived because such can inspire us, direct our steps and fill up our hearts, regardless of whether it is one hundred years later or one hundred hours ago. A story of love, kindness, courage in the face of adversity, faith in Christ, and being of good character (even when no one else is looking) – these are the themes that were intended to capture our interest and our hearts. These are the kinds of things that breathe meaning into our lives and, in turn, inspiration into the lives of others. It is unfortunate when we become temporarily sideswiped or derailed by the people or the circumstances that try to wedge their way into life as anything other than our Creator intended our lives to be.
To this last point and, in Martha’s memory, we are reminded from Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
There is really no doubt that the God of peace has Martha tightly in His arms. May the light of Martha’s life brighten the way for others, just as the legacy of Grandfather William Albert and our other wonderful Adlam ancestors have done for so many of us, through the ages.
Love and blessings,
(A pdf of both the original autobiography and the new, edited version (mine PLUS Martha’s) can be found at the bottom of this post. You can print it in the PDF format provided. As this autobiography is intended to be a fluid document, input like Martha’s and other family information is always welcomed. I will periodically update it, with credits to the various family author(s).
Click the link below, for the new text: