My children, scattered around the world. My father understands.
I never bore biological children, but there's never been a time in my life when I didn't have a close relationship with a child or young adult. No kids of my own, then, but godchildren, nieces and nephews, neighbors, friend's children, and upstairs neighbors. It's a path not taken that's no doubt for the best, still, at times, I feel a sadness well up. I once loved a man who I wanted to have children with. Not just children, but his children. And so, my children are scattered all over the world. And, my art-writing-music-storytelling have become my creative children.
My father and mother visited me three times when I lived for five years in Botswana and Ghana. They met the school children I taught when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. They met the village girls who studied in the sewing center I set up as an independent volunteer. Which, in 2008, I discovered had grown into a multi-village vocational school. We never know--especially those of us who have moved around--just who we've touched in our lives. But, I believe these creative seeds we sow do bear harvest.
Pop likes to tell the story of meeting one of my students in Gaborone, Botswana (the capitol). I'd taught him in 1973, and they met him in 1976. He told my parents that he had one of the best jobs in the country because of his education in Maun, Botswana (way, way up north) and being one of my students.
So, my parents saw and they knew. My father has a deep undertanding and love for me. It's not an "I love you, Janet" sort of love. But, it's a love any daughter would count as her blessing. It's this no fuss love that keeps me going as part of our family care team to keep my 95-year-old father as lively as possible as long as possible--in the home he's lived in all his life.
He wrote this poem for me the other day. I found it lying on the table next to him sitting in his chair. I picked it up, not knowing it was for me. After I read it, we chatted about it some more and teared up a little as I faced him, my toes on top of his--another version of hand holding that works pretty well. --Janet
THEY ARE NOT HERE
by Erwin A. Thompson
For Janet, my youngest
Our family are all dedicated teachers. Each of us to their own field. For Janet there is no scroll to hang in the living room. She has followed her inheritance and the examples set by her parents and her siblings of "looking out for the underdog." I tell her that the reason she has no family gathering around her at the family reunions is that her family is scattered all over the world.
THEY'RE NOT HERE
by Erwin A. Thompson
For Janet, my youngest daughter
The family gathers.
They seem to settle down into little family groups.
My children, and their children.
Sharing their love, the things that they have done.
And then I look at you. You sit alone.
Alone, with people on every side.
The kept back tear drops that you try to hide.
Your children scattered o'er the world,
With education & skills that you helped them learn.
"We have two of the top jobs in the country."
Quite a jump from the little school
Six hundred miles of sand from the capitol.
And so, you sit alone. But part of you is not here.
You gave it to those youngsters years ago;
And then you gave the education, the tools
To make that dream come true.
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