Anthem of Ancestry
(The I Am meme)
I am from gentle ties that bind; from farmland and baked bread and small, sturdy hands; from goodness and grittiness, grounded in virtue and faith.
I am from Johnson and Peterson, Jansson and Persson; from Albert, Amanda and Annie; from Brita and Lars.
I am from the golden glow of stars on sidewalks, orange-laden boughs and seascaped sunsets, fast freeways and slow summer days. I am the city of angels, gardenias, bougainvilleas, and rose bowls.
I am from long visits and shared stories, from creativity and inspiration, from tightly held pencils with notebooks and journals to fill.
From books yet unwritten and songs to be savored and sung.
I am from poets and pioneers, from Hope is the thing with feathers and Do what is right, let the consequence follow.
From a landed grandfather who traded green fields, the midnight sun, and comfort for a new religion, an unknown nation, and humility.
I am from Come, Come, Ye Saints and All Is Well; from honey bees, lemon trees, and carefully planted roots.
I am one lake away from Stockholm, good growing ground for a tree of life whose leaves branched the ocean to Idaho, swept the Golden State from San Fernando Valley to the Bay.
I am from rhubarb pie and Swedish pancakes, raisin cookies cooling on the rack, baking powder biscuits smeared with honey, peppermint tea, chicken and dumplings in the pot.
From stove-popped corn, drizzled with a whole stick of butter, and freshly-made taffy to pull.
I am from Gustaf Albert Johnson, coaxing dolls out of pinewood to light a daughter's eyes, hands steady for the carving, releasing hidden treasures with his blade. From George Edward Anderson, recording Mormon history, embracing life and people with a lens that loved whatever beauty filled it. From little Myrtle, who died because the doctor valued his weekend more than her life and felt her appendix could certainly wait until Monday.
I am from a bow-wielding mother, Gagliano in hand, sending strains of In a Monastery Garden to my soul; a sister seated at the baby grand, myself a whirling dervish as she played.
I am from music and laughter and Saturday morning house cleanings with Johnny Mathis blaring in the background. From dance class and street tag and double dutch jump rope and jacks.
From summer road trips over BIg diPS in rear-facing seats, Dad succumbing to shrieks, putting pedal to metal; from squiggles and hand jives, late-night diner dives, Dairy Queen, Zuma Beach and Mom's sweet, frozen grapes laced with sand. From date shakes, taquitos, and root beer in tall, frosty mugs.
I'm from hills, lakes, and valleys my eyes have not seen; from countries I may never visit, except in my heart.
I am from all the people before me and all who will follow, from sisters and brothers far dearer than others could be. From late walks and deep talks; emotions, complex and profound. From aunts, uncles, grandparents, words (thoughtful words) and intelligence, grounded in truth or uprooted in folly.
I am from sacred traditions and long-held beliefs; from bone-deep loyalties and lasting legacies; from mistakes, made and mended. My life has been tethered and anchored by love that survives.