These are my maternal ancestors, photographed in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s . The baby is my grandmother’s older sister, Hazel Fulmer. The woman holding her is her great-grandmother, Betsy Strickland. Clockwise from her is my great-grandmother, Mabel Fulmer; her mother, Betsy McWhorter-White; and Granny Gepford, Hazel’s great-great-grandmother.
I never met my grandmother’s sister. I did know my great-grandmother Mabel. She lived the last few years of her life with my grandmother and died when I was about thirteen or fourteen.I didn’t really know these women, but their blood runs through my veins. I know that they were strong, capable women who managed homes and farms, who traveled in covered wagons from Illionois to Oklahoma, who midwived babies, who made herbal remedies, who knew more about how to survive with very little than I can imagine.
I feel thankful and strong and humbled looking at this picture. These women gave everything for their family–and ultimately me. They believed in the future because they lived in the present. They had to to make ends meet when their husbands labored in the flour mill, while they and the children worked the family farm.
How can I not honor them? I may not have agreed with them or gotten along with them, if we had known each other. But I hope that they would count me as a strong spirit, willing to do what was necessary to live and make the world a better place for my loved ones.
On this Samhain, what lessons do you live, what messages do your Ancestors give you from your very bones?