I am from family:
from a genealogy traced back to the good ship DeGroot out of Friesland in 1659 and another that begins and ends with no place name but Poland.

I am from sauerbraten and potato pancakes, kapusta and kielbasa; from pride and good blood and a loathing of lies;
I am from Roman Catholic and Protestant;
from Easter lilies and raisin-studded babka;
from decorating eggs to egg-tapping.

I am from stories:
of how they met in Sears and how much she disliked him;
of what the tree buds looked like the April I was born.

I am from history:
from Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy;
I am from a war every twenty years or so;
I am from the first steps on the moon, to the Twin Towers and a planet in the midst of global warming.

I am from polio epidemics and “Will she live?”
to survival but legs that no longer ran.
I am from hospitals and therapy and
missing my first grade play,
from tutors and home-schooling,
from summers playing endless skelly games with best friends,
to winters of isolation with the Bobsy Twins and Nancy Drew.

I am from a lack of all grandparents but one, who rarely spoke, but read the newspaper from cover to cover every evening and brought me books from the same library where I worked for nearly twenty years.

I am from miracle stories:
of an uncle who died at seven listening to the angels sing;
of a vision of Christ as life was saved by one more pint of blood;
of faith renewed in a house blazing with celestial light.

I am from stories of WWII:
of bone-chilling foxholes and purple hearts;
of a body invaded by bullets and shrapnel;
of missing the “Battle of the Bulge” by being thrown in the “clink”.
I am from a grandpa buried on Christmas Eve, a grandma dying eight months later, a father deployed the day after the funeral.
I am from hand addressing envelopes to buy formula, from censored letters so blacked-out nothing was visible between My darling wife and Your loving husband.

I am from a cord of three; of hard work shared, of love for nature, laughter, bread-baking, ocean travel and one another other.

I am of stories and language, enthusiasm and creativity, of classical music, pastel portraits, of manuscripts unpublished but finished. I am of porches and magnolia trees, of chatting with neighbors over the back fence and phone calls measured by hours, not minutes. I am of depression and coping, of falling down and getting up, of failure and success, of missed opportunities and roads less traveled, of lifelong learning and growing my soul, of meditation and prayer, of fellowship and gratitude.

I am from generations never met, to a circle nearing completion. I am from faith, love, and thanksgiving for a life blessed beyond measure.