Like most stories about women, mine is greatly inspired by my mother. Born in Virginia, she was raised in rural Massachusetts and lived in several states across the midwest before settling in Baltimore, Maryland. Among other things, she has been a teacher, a margarita drinker, a job coach, and a song writer. Years ago, she wrote a poem for me called ‘Legacy’ and it still evokes emotion for me – each time I read it I feel loved.

Mom teaching me to garden in Ashland, Nebraska. 1976
For my daughter, Colleen

You come from a long line of strong women,
I know sometimes you feel overwhelmed in this living
And the frantic pace of the world around you.
There are times, I think, you want to hide yourself away
And curse the talents you were given.

Please, take time to reflect on the women who came before you:
Melissa, the nurse who landed on the beach at Normandy
And “carried away cargoes of pain”;
Bertha, who gave up comforts and security
To follow the man she loved into the mountains
Harriet, who led a distinguished life of public service
And still visited schoolchildren at the age of 100;
Ellen, who went south to teach children of freed slaves
And then went on to become a doctor in a frontier town;
Mary, who carried her husband’s body in a buckboard
For more than 300 miles so he would have a proper burial;
Betsy, who died in an epidemic
After taking care of all the sick members of her family.
The list could go on…

Oh, my daughter,
While we carry our fathers’ names
We carry our mothers’ hearts
And their strong sense of fairness and determination.
Even more, we are living proof that their love endured.
A love sometimes brought forth
From great sacrifices and sorrows.

You come from a long line of strong women.
Do not turn your back on them,
For their stories cry out to be remembered and honored.
You are their gift to this time and place.
Let yourself be nurtured by their spirit 
And go forth every day, knowing that you too
Were born to be strong.

Barbara T. Swanson
May, 2000

2 thoughts on “Legacy

  1. Thank you for sharing your blog. I particularly enjoyed reading your mother’s poetry that I have not seen before and reading more about Aunt Melissa that I have heard about since becoming part of the family. Well done! Love Bob


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s