The Keeper of Memories

I am the last daughter, the youngest woman in a line of women
Who fled the smoky peat of a Scottish hearth
For a piney wilderness of aspiration
Who saved letters from beaus dying in 1917 France
To show to grand-daughters sixty years later
Who raised a family through the Depression in one shame-filled room
of a cousin’s boarding house
Who learned to fly in middle age and soared into death too early
For her daughter to know more stories of the women of her line

I have no daughters to whom I can pass on stories and moments
Of women’s lives and dreams
The kind that never get into history books
But which built a nation and made me all that I am today.
No one who will treasure the casserole dishes
And needlework and Sunday School lessonbooks
Thrown out because you can’t take everything to a nursing home
And no one has enough storage space these days to take it.

I am the Keeper of the Memories of a long line of women
Without a daughter to follow me, how can I preserve who they were?
Remember them as they should be remembered?
I cannot bring those women back to life by being them
For I need to be myself
But I can distill the essence of all that they hoped for
The women of their line who would come after them
And drink it in like a sip of water on a parched summer day
Let it infuse my thoughts, my wisdom, my work
And turn memories into how I live each moment now.

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