Also see Heritage Albums, Family History and Genealogy.
(Alice Mackenzie Swaim)
Sunbonneted, a baby in your arms,
Your home for months, a jolting wagon bed,
How staunchly you suppressed the deep alarms
That grew with every mile you forged ahead!
You watched the prairie stretch day after day,
An endless sea of grass, vast sinister,
Your heart remembering clean salt, sea spray
As trail dust clogged your throat, made your eyes blur.
You tried to face the future unafraid,
Not yielding to the doubts of yesterday,
Your lips with outward smiles while you prayed
Kind providence to guide you on your way.
You lacked possessions, yet had love to see
Children were your true immortality.
One tree outlives the mighty oak
Because it's made of special folk,
Through generations changing form,
Providing shelter from life's storm.
Our parents' parents and before,
Who may have lived on distant shores,
They root our lives in memories;
We're nourished by their histories.
A sturdy trunk that lends support
And gives us care of every sort--
The fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts,
Who nurture us like tender plants.
The children, branching toward the sky,
Have brand new dreams and deeds to try.
And babies, buds that seem so small,
Will flower so the tree grows tall.
Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.
(Dorothy Hilliard Moffatt)
The way I walk
I see my mother walking
My feet secure
and firm upon the ground
The way I talk
I hear my daughter talking,
And hear my mother's echo
in the sound.
The way she thought
I find myself now thinking,
The generations linking
In a firm continuum of mind.
The bridge of immortality
The voice before me echoing behind.
There's a tree that grows within my house,
a tree with many lives;
It holds within it's great branches
a tale that makes it thrive.
Among it's leaves are many faces
of those from whom I came;
It's bark is the strength of family
it's roots became my name.
This tree is very precious
it has lived untold years;
It will live on in life and memory,
and bring both joy and tears.
My family tree is a treasure
that I'll pass on to mine;
They'll nurture it and make it grow
until the end of time.
"When we came to Kansas," grandfather said,
"I built us a cabin and chinked it tight,
There was oak and hickory for our fires,
And a good, cold spring near the cabin site."
"I shot plenty of deer," he reminisced,
"And prairie chickens were thick as hops;
Fish in the crick and squirrels in the woods,
So we didn't depend alone on crops."
She sighed, "We were miles and miles from shops."
"I broke the sod for some corn and wheat
But grasshoppers plagued and dry years came;
Some folks packed up and they went back East,"
Said he, "but we stayed and proved our claim."
Said she, "All alone when my first child came."
A square of bright red calico
Her fingers would explore;
She wore it her first day at school,
She told me o'er and o'er!
To a narrow strip of yellowed white
Her eyes would often stray;
She wore that when a blushing bride,
Upon her wedding day.
That tiny piece of pink and white,
And then the tears would start;
Her first-born in her arms was laid,
Close to her mother-heart.
Her fingers touched a dainty blue
In reverence, lingered there;
"The little girl God needed," and
Her lips would move in prayer.
There, woven in my Mother's quilt
Was the record of her life;
The gray days and the golden ones,
Her years of joy and strife.
And when she left her earthly home
To cross that silent sea,
Her presence lingered, bright and warm
In this quilt she left with me.