Have you ever been the recipient of an inheritance after a loved one has passed away? If we really think about it, every one of us can answer yes. Obviously I’m not speaking only of monetary inheritance. How about personality traits or traditions? What of cultural inheritance or physical attributes? All of that plays into who we are as individuals- the sum of generations of inheritance. Not only do these things affect who we are, but also who we are raising in the coming generations. We are linked from the beginning to the end of time through these individuals; what has been and will be passed on.
Someone I cherish was going through a harrowing time in her life and I was amazed at her strength. She told me of her realization that in her very veins ran the blood of incredibly strong women. She wrote the following poem:
Have the strength of an army
The power of thousands who have gone before me
Whose blood runs through my veins
To cross me
Try to take away those things I hold most dear
As I crush to powder with my words
With my witness of what I know
The muscles that strained as they carried children hundreds of miles over unforgiving plain
The sweat of cowboys herding cattle through the desert heat under a blistering sun
The blood and tears shed through sacrifice, pain, toil, and hardship
The joy, comfort, and faith of those who paved the way
To challenge me, to weaken and attack me
And you will see me rise up with all that is in me, beside me, before and behind me
Who I Am
–Micki Ericksen, 2014
Who are you? Who has come before and endured hardships in order to pass their strength to you? What are their stories? What attributes do you claim by virtue of who you came from?
My grandfather wasn’t what most would consider an upstanding gentleman. We lived on his property for years and while he would often help himself to our food when we were away, he also let us kids help him feed the animals, showed us when the baby chicks were born, and always had those thin, crunchy oatmeal cookies to share.
The aroma of chewing tobacco and garlic will be forever part of how I remember him. When I was younger, we stopped by for a quick visit and to drop off his Christmas gift. Once we left, my younger sister announced in a tone of astonishment that he had cussed 14 times!! We all had a chuckle at her innocence and honesty, but that was who Papa was. I’m pretty confident that my selective stubbornness (as I like to call it) came from him. I know and admire how hard my dad worked when I was little, to weed out some of the traits he inherited from Papa. We can all work to overcome those things that we know came to us, but don’t serve us in being the kind of people we want to be. It may take therapy, trial and error, and lots of asking forgiveness, but it can be done.
I hope we can honor the good traits we inherited from those who came before us. I hope we take time to research and get to know the people that helped make us us! Not only does their influence permeate our very beings, but it will also go on for generations after us. I hope we weed out the unwanted and cultivate the beautiful. Let their strengths be our strengths. Pass on to the next generation the good that was given… for centuries to come.