Remembering Someone I Never Knew
My great grandfather lived twenty eight years.
His life and destiny: husband, father, soldier, farmer.
His farm, family and the fields were the sum and total of his life.
All memory of his life and family have vanished.
He exists only in books of records.
I search him out because he is a link in the family chain.
He fathered my grandfather, who fathered my father- who fathered me.
Surely that alone must warrant the search.
Who was he, this man. This husband, father, soldier and farmer.
What bought him joy? What disturbed his rest?
Was he kindhearted and generous, or mean and miserly?
From sunrise to sunset everything in his world connected
him to the soil beneath his feet.
The world and perhaps living life beyond the boundaries of the farm
were secondary to his role as son, husband, father and farmer.
Is this the life he chose; was marriage and farming and fatherhood
expected but not wanted? Did he dream of a different life?
What cut his life so early? Fever – Injury?
Who stood beside his grave and grieved his passing?
No matter, without this life and those who were before him,
I would not be here. From his life I am here.
There is no portal to view the time and place where I too will shed
my cloak of skin, or know who will grieve — or remember that I too once lived.
I Look back at the events that shaped my life I see how
I rushed to marriage and motherhood as expected.
And found in each both sorrow and joy.
My vision and avocation also differ.
The dry powdery earth beneath my feet is far different from the moist,
rich soil plowed by my great grandfather.
Yet, if I sowed the same seed as my great-grandfather planted.
it would still bear the fruit of its kind.
Each seed meets its own destiny.
Not every seed falls on fallow ground.
Every seed does not bear fruit.
The seed itself becomes food of another.
He is my history. I am one facet of his life.
Every life has meaning, promise, and purpose.
His life my search.
My search- his life, and a chance for both of us to live again.
Why should I fret and fume today because no one knows of him?
Am I not his great granddaughter?
Am I not a grandmother myself?
Rachel – 2003©
Rachel – 2016 Great-grandmother
Remembering – – SLAUGHTER, b 1846 Pope Co IL – Parents unknown.
Union soldier – death 1849- unknown illness – after his return from
service as military guard: His task- guarding Confederate prisoners
His gravestone – once unreachable –
lost in weeds, grasses and thorny bushes – located – 2006.
He left a widow and two children – a son – a daughter.