As Christmastime quickly approaches, I am busy trimming my trees, sipping homemade egg nog, and wrapping presents. Every year I select a certain “palate” for my gift wrap. This year I was inspired by a set of vintage postcards, dating back to the early 1900’s. These postcards hold memories of a time unclouded by big box stores, Black Friday shopping, and rabid consumerism. The stamp only cost a penny and there is no need for a complete address. It simply reads: “Charles Hawn Dresser Street Southbridge, Mass.” Ah, a simpler time. I have become attached to my little mementos that I had planned to craft into a cute gift tags for my trendy wrapping paper that I selected in a warehouse type store filled with multitudes of glitter and crafty seduction.
Only my attention has turned to this “Charles Hawn.” Who is he? What was his occupation in 1908? Did he have a family? Who is this Frances that so thoughtfully sent him a postcard greeting? What is their story? Through my research, I found he was married a Louisa P. from Vermont and he was buried in Poplar Cemetery in Wisconsin in 1910. Frances? She was his Auntie. Beyond that… nothing remains. Except this postcard greeting. But what has captivated my attention is how important their lives must have been. How they were the centers of their community. These tiny little postcards, the only communication to let their family know they were well as another year passed by. These once important, beloved families, now forgotten, except for the occasional person who inherits this small token of remembrance. Once the center of someone’s world, gone just a short century later. How can a life, so important, become so insignificant?
This thought inspired my latest poem…
SAVED BY INSIGNIFICANCE
In Poplar Cemetery generations lie
A hundred years lived,
Then laid here to die.
For what once was the sun in someone’s sky,
Another empty day passes by.
A Mother’s child, now forgotten,
For in Time, we all have one thing in common.
The granite headstones weathered by rain,
Carefully chosen words inscribe the pain:
“Unknown Soldier lost at war”
“A Kind Friend to All”
“My Child, Gone Too Soon”
“My Love, My Dear”
For how many hopes lie buried here.
Lifetime of sacrifice and work unknown;
Some were wealthy;
Some died poor.
Healers to the sick;
Ministers to the poor.
In Poplar Cemetery, once lived full of life,
But have you ever heard of Charles Hawn or his lovely wife?
History tells of kings and queens.
Legends and Martyrs footnote the books.
But searching for significance is a dangerous plight;
For it is Mother and Father who shape the inner light;
Tedious work that is seldom awarded,
No face painted on high,
No story told by a famous name,
No bust in a Hall of Fame.
Many years from now…generations removed,
No one will remember my hobbies, my laugh.
They won’t know of my gardens’ prize, or my cozy home.
A story… maybe two,
And then I’ll be completely gone.
In the remnants of a life gone by,
I will leave the legacy of my child.
Whose faith I’ve given, will guide her life.
A girl who will grow into her own,
And through this miracle, my spirit will carry on.
Today, I hold the tiny hand
That will one day hold mine,
For in Time, we all have one thing in common…
Heritage of Faith is all we leave behind.