I related to my friend about how important it was for me to get as many family letters, artifacts and other precious materials from as many relatives as possible quickly (I am not getting any younger). Her response was that I was like a "pit bull" in my quest.
In discussing the whys and wherefores of my research project, which has become almost an obsession with me, it occurred to me that being passionate about one's research is absolutely essential to success and your happiness as a researcher.
You see, I have received incredible joy by performing my research. And it is not as you might think. The joy that has been bestowed upon me is really the satisfaction that I have been quite instrumental in writing the life stories of over 50 people. Without this research and certainly the cooperation of a small few of my "cousins," these stories would never be available and therefore could not be read by future generations of Braunharts; or Smiths, or Jones for that matter.
So as a result, my ancestors can indeed live forever - in their stories, photos, words and their deeds.
Furthermore, and this is equally if not more important, I have made a few connections with cousins that have been life altering because of researching our ancestors. One of my cousins for example, knew nothing of her ancestors because of the severe trauma of one of her parents in their childhood and the fear of revealing and re-living that trauma. Thus the child, my cousin, was never able to connect with her ancestral family. Through this research she is now able to do so, and it has been life changing for her.
It doesn't matter to me whether you are a great researcher, or a lousy one. I also don't care whether you can write 100% accurate and complete source citations, or whether you know your way around a cemetery or a courthouse.
The ultimate question you must ask yourself is:
Are your TRULY passionate about your ancestors? Do you really care about them? If the answer to either of these questions is no, or even maybe - then that means you are faking it, so why are you even bothering with this at times frustrating and always challenging exercise? Your ancestors deserve better, don't you think?