First things first -- Clint Eastwood will NOT play any part in this particular post . . . well, mostly not.
One of the things I have learned in the past 25 years is that you have to take the Good with the Bad when it comes to family relations -- both dead and alive! We seem to have differing tolerance levels based on the "living" status of the relative. If the relative is living, then he/she/it can be taken as a familial cross to be borne. If the relative in question has been long gone from this world, then his/her/its life is a story to regale anyone and everyone who will stand still long enough to listen. (FYI-- totally guilty of this!)
There are so many stories to be told when it comes to our families. Some stories are great. They are fun, uplifting, endlessly entertaining, etc. Then we have the other stories . . . which can be depressing, alarming, and sometimes frightening.
When I started researching my own family history, my greatest fear was that I'd discover that a distant relation had been a slave owner. I actually avoided particular branches of my family tree because I believed they would most likely lead to just such a discovery. Guess what -- avoiding doesn't work. Because it was from a different part of my family tree that I discovered what I had feared most -- I was descended from ancestors who had engaged in the practice of slavery.
So what happens when you discover something in your ancestry that you wished you hadn't? Nothing!! Like each of us, our ancestors were complex individuals who had good, bad and ugly traits. Like each of us, there were moments of incredible highs, often followed by periods of incredible lows. Most often though, like us, they lived the majority of their lives somewhere in the middle.
So, embrace your familial past -- don't fear it. Listen for the voices of your predecessors and see what they have to teach you. I promise you--good, bad or ugly-- it will be a ride worth the price of admission.