Prone to Wander

Faces of the Past

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I often look back at old family photos and marvel at our ability to look back at a snapshot in time.

I am particularly fascinated by the women in my family history.  It’s absolutely staggering to recognize a facial feature or an expression on someone’s face in these photographs as an expression that I’ve seen on the face of someone in my family, or in my own mirror.

Do their expressions convey happiness?  Depression?  Determination? Apathy?  Optimism?

Some of these women left their homelands in Germany, Russia, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in search of a better life, stowed away on the compartments of ships with their children.  Some were pioneers on the frontier, and lived in dirt dugout homes.   Some lost parents, husbands, sons, and daughters to Civil Wars , World Wars and sickness.  Some lived through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

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But there is strength and determination written on these faces. I know enough of the old stories to know that for the most part, these were women who could stare down death. They created something when they had nothing. They found the courage and the will to survive in the darkest of moments.  They fought  to carve out a small piece of life for themselves and their families to call their own.

Some became land-owners.  Some faced discrimination.  Some went to college. Some were poor.  Some were better off.  Some were teachers, some were farmers… but all of these women were mothers.

As I look back on the faces of my grandmothers, great-grandmothers, great great grandmothers, and even some great great great grandmothers, the challenges I face every day seem inconsequential. These women were all pioneers in their own right, and in their own way.  I only hope that I have been lucky enough to inherit just an ounce of their character, resilience and determination.  To all of these women who are each indelibly and forever a part of me whether I’ve known you or not – thank you.

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