I Am From
I am from strong women
A heritage quilt stitched with love and determination
I am more durable than decorative
More educated than wise
Slowly becoming embroidered.
I am from Alvilda
A gritty Norwegian pioneer, 1900s single mother
Who settled the harsh Dakota prairie
Hungered through the Depression
And lived to be one hundred and three.
I am from Frieda
A small boned and big hearted, poised German woman
Whose fragrant kitchen and ample table
Veiled stories of a young girl’s fight for bread
On an immigrant ship.
I am from Helen
A kind, commonsense woman, adopted Dutch orphan
Whose hands crocheted comfort and
Whose colorful pantsuits
Were emancipatory images.
I am from Gladys
Who raised seven children
With loving hands and little voice
She buried a son, then a daughter
And never wavered in her faith in the Lord.
I am from Joanne
Outwardly practical, inwardly whimsical
Painting, photographing, collecting, telling celebratory stories
Of Life, love, family
Making me want to learn how to cook.
I am from Susan.
In my mother’s face I see my reflection,
In her eyes I see years of selflessness and pride in our future.
She insisted – insists – upon strong daughters, my sister and I.
In following her lead
And finding our identity,
We continue the patchwork, my sister and I,
Crafting new patterns out of familiar fabric
Carrying our heritage forward.