I Am

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.

Girls with KittiesI 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.

Pink Jeep

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.

XOXO,
Anna

49 Thoughts on “I Am

  1. Absolutely beautiful life!!

  2. Beautifully written Anna! No wonder you sound so full of joy and happiness!

  3. Anna:
    You did a fabulous job. I enjoyed hearing about where you get your talent.

    Dianne

  4. Lovely, lovely :)
    And a glimpse of some amazing stories.

  5. Oh Anna, what a great sweet post. It is much like who I am and you made me get all emotional. You write so well. I can see the women and the men and the struggles and the triumphs. Thank you for letting me read this and end my Saturday uplifted and thankful for all that I have and all that I came from. I don’t know that we appreciate all that comes together to make us who we are, where we are, and what we stand for, until we are a little older. And though I don’t like getting older I am happy I know who I am more than any other age in my life.

    My father’s family are from the Slovakia (prewar area). They immigrated here and my grandmother only spoke Slovak. Anyway her first 2 children died over there. One fell into water similarly to your ancestor. I have always thought of the heartache she must have felt, let alone the guilt . . . I never met my grandmother. She died when my dad was 17. So many of those men and women lived very very hard lives.

    Anyway I could go on. But I do appreciate your thoughts and the cord they strike in my heart. Its a good way to end the day and begin Sunday.

    You are a dear.

  6. Thank the stars and those marvelous ancestors who shaped a lovely woman and friend.

  7. What a lovely history to read about. Strong women in your family! My two girls are 19 months apart, I can only hope they are as close as you and your sister! I am passing sewing down to my oldest, not really sure my youngest will take it up!!

    Thanks for sharing your family history!

  8. So lovely to read this post, Anna….it brought a tear to my eye, but then I’m a bit of a sentimental fool (but its really the hormones, well, that’s my excuse). Your photos are amazing, too! The pink jeep is classic.

  9. wonderful, wonderful insight into you and how you bacame who you are…I might have a go at this, not sure I have such an interesting background as you though..no wonder you are so strong and rounded in your abilities!

  10. Anna that is the most inspirational and wonderful post I have ever read! (makes me love you even more!)

    Lucy xxx

  11. Thanks for sharing Anna. Wonderful. Amazing. Sweet. Honoust.

  12. Well done!

  13. This really was a lovely entry. As someone from one of the most screwed families on earth, it is nice to know that isn’t the case everywhere.

  14. I think I am from the pound! No, seriously that was beautiful. Jewels

  15. Beautiful!!! We all have a story to tell and as mine might not be as happy and wonderful as yours, it is still history. Thanks for sharing; you’ve inspired me to tell mine.

    ~Susan

  16. I thourghly enjoyed reading this post. I hope my children will look back on their childhood in this way. My son and his friend are outside this very minute toasting marshmallows over a fire they have built. And bizzarely toasting cakes that I have made them over the fire too !

  17. I did this exercise in a workshop and it was one of the most meaningful things I have ever done. When we read them aloud, I started to cry. Thanks for the reminder.

  18. Mary Jane Smith on February 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm said:

    Anna – What a wonderful life story. Thank you for sharing with us! Happy Sunday!
    ~~Mary Jane~~

  19. Amazing post. I’ve read it three times now – and I find more to love about it each time….

  20. Anna, this is absolutely beautiful!

  21. This is just wonderful. How special that you took the time to write this, and how neat that you knew all those details about past generations.

  22. Miss Jean on February 17, 2008 at 10:29 pm said:

    Anna: This gave me chills while reading it. Very eloquent, very soul touching. Amazing.Beautiful. Sad. Joyous. Perfect.

  23. Loved reading this Anna and getting to know you better. What solid stock you come from! Especially loved hearing of a grandpa who let you put his hair in curlers! There’s a man sure of his manhood!

  24. What a beautiful post. I may be tempted to have a go at this, but my story would have to have dead mice in it… I’ll leave it be for now. Yours was a delight and an inspiration. xxooxx Cami

  25. riseoutofme on February 18, 2008 at 5:24 am said:

    Beautiful, evocative post! Sounds like you were surrounded by love!

    HOW long was grandpas hair??

  26. Anna I have read about your hardy ancestors in many books.

    I love your pink jeep and the curlers in Grandpa’s hair.

    That was great to read – THANKS.

  27. This is such a beautiful and well-written post. I enjoyed reading it. You are wonderful!

  28. Beautifully done. I enjoyed this so much. I’ll have to try one too. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Oh, Anna. I don’t even know what to say. This was a treat to read! It’s lovely. You write so well. I had a lump in my throat a few times. The pictures made me smile.

    Beautiful.

    XO

  30. What a great post! Lovely, lovely, Lovely!!

    I never knew any of my grandparents so my story would be soooooo short.
    Enjoyed yours.
    Joni

  31. Oh Anna – what a beautiful and touching post. It brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart.

    Hugs – karen

  32. What a wonderful childhood your parents gave you and what a tribute to them and their parents you are! Thank you for sharing it with us…that was beautiful!

  33. Anna – Amazing! What a wonderful post. You need to save this and give to your grandchildren! My grandfather would sit for hours and let my girls comb his hair. Sometimes the small things make the best memories! XOXO – Gurney

  34. Anna, what a wonderful tribute to your family. I just loved it. What a gem of a family you have – always treasure them!
    What memories!! Thanks for sharing, you make me want to write something like this!
    mary

  35. Anna this is one of the most wonderful posts I have read since entering blogland! It is full of warmth and inspiration, sincerity and love. Thank you for writing it
    Kimx

  36. Fantastic post Anna – so beautifully written and so warm and tender. I love your photos – especially the one of you two little girls playing in the garden :)

    xxxx

  37. What a wonderful, warm post. Thanks for making me think for a few minutes of “where I’m from”

    Megan

  38. What a tender tale of your life, Anna. It’s so true that you can’t know where you’re going until you know from where you came.

  39. Anna- what a beautiful history. I think our ancestors must have crossed paths somewhere… it sounds from your description like they may have shared religious beliefs that led them to be pioneers.

    One of the best memories I have is of traveling to Sweden with my husband’s family and seeing the little town that my paternal grandmother’s family comes from.

    I think knowing ones family history is so exciting and encouraging. Thank you for sharing yours.

  40. Just wanted to drop a quick “hi” following your comment on my blog the other day. You were ABSOLUTELY right and I’m completely embarrassed that I wrote what I wrote! It’s edited now! Thanks for your comment. :)

  41. Ahhh Anna,I’m just catching up, this is so sweet. Made me cry.
    xoxomar

  42. AMAZING post. So inspiring! Beautiful!

  43. Mrs.Staggs on February 22, 2008 at 1:29 am said:

    Hi Anna,

    Everytime I read a person’s story using this exercise, I am amazed at how beautiful it is. Every one. Yours is the first one that has made me cry though. In a good way though. I know what it is to be a strong person, and to appreciate everything that has made me this way. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Hugs to you, on your son going away for a bit. I know what that feels like. That whole give them roots, and wings thing! Take care.

  44. What a great post to read! You are most definitely blessed with a strong family background and, most importantly, the fact that you so obviously appreciate your roots and love your family!

  45. What a neat writing exercise…wonderful post!

  46. I found you from the Red Shoe Blog. I also am a quilter. OK, I attempt to sew quilts. I belong to such an amazing quilt guild that I can’t actually call myself a quilter. I also have a life time of projects. You name it, I probably love it or have tried it or if not me, my husband has it for a hobby or one of my children.

    I also have a pioneer heritage and a son on a mission in Brazil. I’m happy to get a chance to know you.

  47. My goodness, Anna! That was sheer poetry! Your words and photos have deeply touched my heart. Having had a not-so-happy childhood, it is gratifying to know that there is such a thing as a wonderful life! Thank you so much for sharing.

  48. Just read this wonderful post whilst surfing (again) through your blog – (I was looking for *Easter* inspiration).

    I found this so moving – sadly I never knew my grandparents, I lost both my parents by the time I was 25.
    Your gratitude shines through your blog Anna. Bless you.
    :-)

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