Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Women I Never Knew

The sanctuary of my Dallas domain (my bedroom),is a place of quiet, peace, aroma therapy and lots and lots of pillows. Each night I find myself stateside I take the pillows and surround my weariness with a cave of comfort. I even hide my head under the down deliciousness and disappear.

Childhood issues, aloneness struggles, international habitation have all driven this desire for nesting. I explain my idiosyncrasy by the adage "wherever you are - there you are." If I remove peripheral vision, familiar sites and sounds, then whenever I wake as a stranger in a strange land - I do not suffer from disorientation, as I have been known on occasion to wake up and take a few moments to grasp which time zone and continent I am in.

But before I make my retreat into this feathery anonymous security - I look into the eyes of my ancestors - the women I never knew.

There on my wall, guarding my safe haven, are the almost century-old photographs of my grandmothers, my great grandmothers and even one of my great great grandmothers. Their eyes are fixed steadily ahead at a future they cannot fathom - airplanes and Internet and a country in moral decline.

They are not smiling. The technology of the day did not permit "candid" snapshots of their life. They had to remain quite still for long periods of time for the invention to capture their likeness.

I wish I had known them. Or asked even more of their descendants, memories of who they were, what they wished, what made them laugh?

But I do have the sternness of their eyes fixed ahead to remind me each night of another whose eyes were fixed ahead "set like flint, straight toward Jerusalem".

Could they have imagined into the future, someone in their lineage would "go forth to the ends of the earth"? I wonder if I will have a chance to meet them in heaven? I assume they were believers. At that time, in the south - on territory still under the threat of Indian raids - life was hard, and hard not to believe in God.

I wonder if they know I know their faces, their dates of birth and dates of death? The names of their children and their children's children? I wonder if they know me?

I think they do -

and for now - on this side of eternity, before I retire into my cave and sleep - I'll continue to see them as part of my great cloud of witnesses!

The One Woman in the Lineup..

...I did know

Not surprising, considering the work I find myself in now - was an orphan.

She is young in this photo. It was a professional portrait. Her hair is coiffed in a trendy style and the only discernible makeup in the black and white photo is her lipstick - obviously red.

Her face turned to the side and she too has the fixed gaze of her ancestors, whose portraits are above her. She was young, just graduating from the orphanage into college. A life of abandonment behind her, a future of abuse ahead.

I like looking at her before I sleep. I think in me - she has hope. The suffering she endured her whole life - did impact someone...

...me.

I'll be glad to be one of HER great cloud of witnesses!