Almost three months ago, Molly wrote an amazing post entitled Where I’m From. It was beautifully written and I was captivated. She included a link to tips on how to write a similar post of one’s own and I was tempted, but the holidays quickly took over and I forgot about it. Molly must have known how her post touched me though, as last week she issued the challenge again. I love reading these posts and would love to see more from many of you. Here is my version of where I’m from.
I am from pioneers. Strong, independent people migrating for faith and freedom to worship as they pleased. The gathering of the saints. From Scotland, England, Denmark, Wales, Ireland, New York, Ohio and beyond, they all traveled west in the mid-1800’s. They gathered in the Midwest, then walked west. Some leaving so late in the spring, they barely survived an early winter in the mountains, near starvation. Stubborn, hearty pioneers.
I am from generations of hard-working women filled with hope and loss. A grandmother with a 4 yr. old daughter who fell into the cauldron of boiling laundry water and was scalded to death. Another who reared 10 children (and lost 2) on her own in a two-room cabin. And yet another with almost grown children whose husband returned from a mission with a new wife half her age to embrace polygamy. She slammed the door in his face and booted him out. Strong, proud women.
I am from generations of robust, yet gentle men. Grandfathers who loved their children. Trappers, coal miners, shopkeepers, farmers, innovators. Grandfathers who built things, gardened and loved the outdoors. And one in particular who let two little girls sit on his lap and put his beautiful white hair in curlers.
I am from maternal grandparents who died too young. And paternal grandparents who are terribly missed. Who adored their grandchildren and left them with memories of evening car rides on temple hill , eating ice cream cones and singing songs. Tales from the mountains, coyotes, cookies, and Avon. I am from visits with these grandparents and their legions of siblings, listening to tales of “the old days.”
I am from perfect parents. Who protected their two most cherished of possessions and guarded them from tragedy and loss. Who told their girls for twenty years that the dog hit by a car had run away. Who cried for twelve hours before they could explain the house fire that took their girls’ maternal grandmother. I am from parents who never argued in front of their girls. I am from unrealistic expectations of marriage with no confrontation.
I am from the happiest of childhoods. With a sister 19 months younger who made the best playmate. We played house, nursed our dolls and dressed up our dogs. We lived in pretend worlds on swings, hunting lizards, sleeping in tents in the backyard. Bliss that went awry in adolescence when I was so mean to her. I am from sorrow for those years. I am from primary, mutual and seminary. A childhood full of church and a close-knit family of four. Lavish Christmases, huge Easter baskets, cats, dogs, gerbils and parakeets. Monopoly, Life, Risk, Twister, and Trouble.
I am from moving around the country every few years. From Utah, California, Ohio, Utah again and Alabama. From broadened horizons and many acquaintances but few friends. I am from a painfully shy adolescence where the slightest criticism sent me into a closet or under a bed. I am from books. From Anne of Green Gables, Caddie Woodlawn, The Girl of the Limberlost, Up a Road Slowly and many, many more. I am from needle and thread and projects that could fill tens of lifetimes.
I am from a beautiful, well-read mother with an English degree. A mother who patiently endured my fits while teaching me to sew — the gift she freely gave me that I cherish the most. A mother who quilts like a dream and cooks like a pro. I am from casseroles, cookies, cakes and the best pot roast on the planet. I am from beautifully set, well-balanced meals. A mother who taught us homemaking while emphasizing education the most. A mother on the edges of those women’s libbers of the 60’s, who insisted her daughters grow up strong, educated, and able to support themselves and their children in the event of tragedy.
I am from a tender, compassionate, fix-anything father. A father who was our biggest cheerleader and was always there to answer our smallest question. Who suffered through three solid days of explaining what “x” was doing in the number system. Who adored his little girls so much he made a pink jeep for them and taught them about cars. A father with a bizarre sense of humor and jokes that kept us laughing. And groaning. But most of all a father with the biggest heart in the universe. A heart that has betrayed him for 30 years, but through the miracle of medicine has been held at bay.
I am from warmth and love and happiness.
I am from family.