~ by Dianne Billstrom

This is a very personal poem written in tribute to my parents and my heritage. It was given as an exercise in personal discovery and gratitude to those who came before me. It might help the reader to know that at the age of three I had polio and spent several years in a hospital dealing with the aftermath. My father was artistic and was a gifted potter. My mother was a loyal wife and mother, not unlike women of her era who had very little choices in the direction their lives would take. Sacrifice was automatic for them as they raised their children and supported their husbands.

I am the daughter of
soil tillers, stone masons, educators,
tale spinners, musicians, shepherds,
fishermen, potters, dreamers, visionaries.

I have seen my father
mold a lump of clay into an object of beauty,
just as he taught his sons to fish
and his daughters to dream.

I have witnessed my father
as he rescued a lost soul from the street,
fed him, clothed him, and gave him back his spirit.

I watched as my father
buried his son, fought for the life of his wife,
sacrificed his dream for the welfare of his obligations.

I remember my mother
laboring over the wringer
with squares of hot, wet, wool,
wrapping her child’s limbs,
that she might walk again.

I was there when my mother
entered the depths of grief at her loss,
and rose to welcome another not of her womb.

I have marveled as my mother
stood loyally at her her husband’s side,
as he dreamed his dreams
then follow him faithfully, not unlike Sariah.

For them life was a struggle,
nothing was easy. Their love for each other
and their children gave them life’s satisfaction.
They lived simply, but fully, and I am rich
for the legacy that is mine.