When I was only a teenager, I had a terrifying wake-up call: I realized I truly did not know how to feel empathy for others. The thought worried me, because I felt to that to successfully interact with others, I should at least have this skill under my belt. When I voiced my concern to loved ones, they assured me it was normal. I tried to believe them, but the thought would bother me from time to time for a while to come.
I tried to abide by an altruistic lifestyle: spending time with family and friends, listening to others when they had problems, donating to my church, etc. I had the basics down, but I really felt I was lacking in really understanding what it was like to walk in the shoes of another. Then, when I was in my early college years, it started: My interest in breaking down and analyzing the lives of those who have passed on.
I was enveloped in their daily lives: where they worked, who they associated with, who they voted for, what their struggles and triumphs were. All of a sudden, these people came alive from the pages of my newspaper clippings and outlines. Soon, I began to write their stories down and to share them with other family members. My heart started to open up to the experiences, good and bad, that I learned about my ancestors and their families.
I cried when I learned that your second child died when only a wee thing of 2. I felt your pain in learning that mortality is right at your doorstep when you least expect it.
I appreciate you performing your filial duty when you helped your ailing father in caring for your large farm.
I felt your yearning for your sweetheart when he went off to war, the joy and rapture in his return.
I took a moment of silence when I sat by your grave and tried to understand the difficulties of a young amputee with no legs try to find work in during the Great Depression.
You, most of all, I revere. For rising from your family’s stained past and making a life of your own. God bless you in your desires to make your own way and name.