Earlier in the year, I had my DNA analyzed by ancestry.com and received my results within a few weeks. It was so amazing to see all the areas of the world where my ancestry began, and how those early relatives scattered and connected, and where we have all established ourselves today. I now have the confirmation that my family tree connections were correct, even generations back. If you haven’t researched your ancestry, you should. The kits are not that expensive. Our son and daughter-in-law gifted my husband and me with ours last Christmas, and it was exciting for the whole family to see the results. My husband is adopted, so it has a special meaning for him to connect with birth relatives, most of whom he was unaware. Continue reading DNA
Way back there in birthing bed
alone again she’d weep.
Year after year, new flesh, new bone,
pushed out like temporal teeth.
Ripped from its sockets by the roots,
life gasped and screamed for air,
then quieted down in perfect peace
to rich maternal fare.
Grandmother soil, warm and fertile,
the perfect garden spot.
She was Eve in efflorescence:
Black-eyed Susans, Blazing Stars,
Snow-drops, Spring Beauties,
Ragweed and Clover.
She was Eden, perennially pregnant.
Wildflowers, we speckle the landscape,
earth’s laughter, we nourish and flavor the land.
Spawned one by one in darkened rooms,
loosed as fledglings from cradling hands:
we explore, we discover,
we dance, we sing,
She sat, reflected.
Locks of silver trembled in fingers reluctant,
The brush stroked indulgently,
One hundred times.
She sat, reflected.
Strands of silver shimmered in attraction,
Crowning highlights bristled in ritual.
Hair, alive and crackling, flew,
She arose, retreated,
Locks of silver tightly braided, pinned down,
Hair, alive and crackling,
When my husband was a little boy, according to court documents, his mother, a widow, left him and his sister in the care of “vicious and immoral people, without proper food or sanitation.” Due to her neglect, the county removed her youngest two children—my husband and his sister—from the residence and she lost all parental rights. The older daughter, thirteen-years-old and pregnant, was sent to a state school for girls, where her baby was born and placed for adoption. An older son, age sixteen, joined the army. My husband and his sister were ultimately separated from each other. When he was two and a half and she was five, they were adopted by different families. They never saw their mother again. Continue reading Women and Children in Need
Alex Haley’s book, Roots, first sparked my interest in the study of family history. It fostered an acute awareness in me of the strength, the pure willpower of each of our fore-bearers, to survive. The legacy we all share, regardless of our biological beginnings, is that we are all descendants of survivors—generation after generation of survivors. That book gave me a better understanding of the miracle that each one—in his or her own place and time—survived at least long enough to produce what would become us! You know, that is an astounding thing when you think about it. Continue reading Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction
While poking around old memory chambers,
Revisiting my childhood years,
I was surprised, not by ghosts from the past,
But by locks on so many doors.
Did you ever have a birthday cake?
With candles for making a wish?
Did they all gather ’round with the birthday song,
and watch you open your gifts?
Did someone sing you to sleep at night,
After gently tucking you in?
Can you recall being told you were loved,
Then saying it back to them?
Did the tooth fairy come as you slept?
Did you ever see a clown?
Did you believe in the Easter Bunny,
Or go to the circus in town?
Did your family all laugh together?
Did you sit on your daddy’s lap?
Did your mother read you stories,
Before your afternoon nap?
Oh, you must have had lots of parties.
No telling the times your family ate out!
I’ve just been wondering, for comparison’s sake,
About the kind of childhood you had.
What a narrow window she looked through
during her allotted time for life.
She couldn’t see over the red clay hill
cut deep by rutted tracks.
Years spent in front of that window,
left the imprint of her knees
embedded within the whorls of oak,
a martyr’s testimony.
That window bears the indentions
her gripping fingers made,
pressed into the wooden frame
in anxious expectancy.
She was in a holding pen unaware,
for hers was a common fate.
She knew nothing of optional plans,
or alternate routes of escape.
“He came with her. Mary said it didn’t matter what anybody thought.”
“Mary’s the daughter?”
“No-o-o-o. Mary’s the mother. I can’t remember what the girl’s name is, but she’s the one that lives up north, someplace in New York. Anyway, that’s where she met that nigger man she married.”
“What? Why, I have to watch everything I say to you, Lana!” Continue reading Down Home Sickness
Just up the road from our driveway, in the yard of the house at the corner, there grows this ancient sycamore tree. I am sure it is ancient—it’s gigantic. Its white and gray mottled bark wraps a trunk as large in diameter as a medium size tabletop. In places, the bark peels and curls away, like dried hide, revealing smooth white skin underneath. And its leaves, resembling great webbed maple leaves often as broad as eight inches, quickly cover the ground when they start to fall—pieces of brown and yellow parchment for a child to rustle around in, or to make pretend dresses from as I recall. Every time I notice that old tree, something similar to melancholy comes over me, and I am reminded of years past, and feel unsettled, sad. Continue reading Sycamore Trees Make Me Lonesome