A Year of Gratitude

Dear Pearl,

You might remember the sudden shift in weather when the winds turn cold and the air becomes dry and harsh. Maybe you went back home to Minnesota before the chill came about here. You probably would have thought it mild compared to your former home. I often sit and wonder about you and the things that occupied your days and what kind of thoughts you had when your mind wandered. But then I snap out of my daydream and remember that there is work to be done!

But before I set out to DO MORE THINGS, I want to honor you, Pearl, with a pause. A moment so still it’s as if the whole world has stopped spinning just for a split second. In this silence, I want to share my gratitude with you. See, it’s not just about you and me, Pearl. We have brought something special to the community. And so this gratitude is shared with you, and with everyone.

Thank you for supporting me and for encouraging me. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for talking to me. Thank you for smiling. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for wearing your Pearl pins. Thank you for donating. Thank you for being inspired to create your own art. Thank you for taking a dull day and making it better, just by being you and by being in the world.

It may seem silly, but sometimes it’s easier to research genealogy than to try to get along with the living. But I don’t study the past just to avoid my current reality. I look to the past to try to better understand the present. To try to plan for a brighter future. I paint family photos because there is something calling me to do so. There is so much to know, so much to share. And maybe in a small or big way, knowing will help bring us closer.

All of us.

And it’s with this gratitude and this lofty goal of unity and preservation, that I try to honor you, my family. And it’s with this community that I get to learn and grow and inspire others to look to the stories of their past to inspire strength and courage for the future. I am so grateful for the time I have spent with my own mother on this adventure, learning from our shared past, and trying to understand the lessons from our ancestors.

I do hope to live up to my lofty goals, in your name, and in the names of the hundreds of kin who came before you to bring us all here together today. And I thank you for the gift of family, and the unique stories we get to share in your name and in the names of those who came before and after you.

Your loving niece,

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