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"Strangers in the Box" By Pamela A. Harazim
Come, look with me inside this drawer, In this box I've often seen,
At the pictures, black and white, Faces proud, still, serene.
I wish I knew the people, These strangers in the box,
Their names and all their memories Are lost among my socks.
I wonder what their lives were like. How did they spend their days?
What about their special times? I'll never know their ways.
If only someone had taken time To tell who, what, where, when,
These faces of my heritage, Would come to life again.
Could this become the fate Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories Someday to be tossed away?
Make time to save your pictures, Seize the opportunity when it knocks,
Or someday you and yours could be The strangers in the box.
If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
There might be some of them, perhaps,
You wouldn't want to know.
But, here's another question, which
Requires another view,
If you could meet your ancestors,
Would they be proud of you?
What calls us to find the ancestors? It goes beyond a simple curiosity. We are taken over, compelled, as if possessed by something bigger than us that is begging to be revealed. There is one of us in most every family, called to be the scribe. I am but one of the many in the long line of storytellers of our clan. Like others I am called to gather and assemble the ancestors—to breathe life back into them as far back as we can reach. We take what we find and chronicle the facts of their existence, remembering their names and who they were and what they did. They are the sum of who we are, for without them, we would not exist. We greet those who came before us, restoring their place in the familial line. We scribe their stories and their histories. We search for them in public libraries, county records, and weed-filled or well-kept cemeteries. We comb through yellowed newspapers, family archives, and lovely old letters and photo albums. We find them! And in finding them—we find ourselves.
Catherine (Clemens) Sevenau, Sep 2009