She was born in February, ninety-two years ago. The fourth daughter of a large farm family, she was a dreamer, lover of art and books and especially poetry. There is only one person alive on earth today who actually knew her in person; her younger sister who is my father's only surviving sibling. I never knew her and yet I still think of her, especially during February.
She wandered the farm and surrounding woods. She read books. And she wrote pages and pages of poetry. In pencil. On notebook paper. Those pages now belong to me. They are not expertly written but then again, they were written when she was thirteen to seventeen years of age.
One of her poems is titled "Too Many Moonbeams:"
Too many moonbeams shining out of a dark blue sky,
Too many dreams come tumbling from the stars on high
Too many vows are broken, too many promises made,
Too many words lightly spoken in the moonlight and shade.
You can't drown sorrow in moonbeams, no matter how you try.
You can't keep hearts from breaking, when dreams all crumble and die.
Broken vows cannot be mended, or promises kept true
When words mean only raindrops, and tears mean only dew.
The poem was written when my aunt was fifteen. When she was fourteen, she fell in love with an eighteen-year-old boy. Just before she turned fifteen she found herself pregnant. The boy was not interested in marriage.
Like most families of the day, my father's family arranged for her to live with a distant relative during her confinement and delivery. She still believed that the boy really loved her and would marry her when the baby was born. She was wrong.
She returned home with her baby daughter to live with my grandparents and her other siblings still at home. But she never stopped dreaming. And she never stopped believing. And she never stopped writing.
This poem was written when my aunt was seventeen.
Sweethart (sic) Come Back To The Pine
There's a tree growing back in the mountains
It's the same old tree today
As it was when we stood there beneath it
And you kissed me and then went away.
Remember our initials carved on it
As you made them remember you said
That our hearts pinned together with an arrow
Would remain so till we both were dead.
I have hoped and I've prayed, and I've waited
Till you would come back to the pine
To the girl standing there beneath it
Where, years ago, you left her behind.
As the moon comes up over the mountain
So beautiful it breaks this heart of mine
Oh, please, while it's flooding the valley
Sweetheart come back to the pine.
The aunt I never knew loved her daughter and she spent her days caring for her. She seemed distant and continued to wander about the farm and woods, often sitting for hours staring into the river. And still she dreamed. And still she believed that the baby's father loved her.
To be continued...