I picked up a Shakespeare’s Sonnets last week, and began trying to read them from the beginning. (I’ve never read them before.)
As I waded through the first dozen, I was struck by the recurring plea to the listener to beget. To parent children so that in their image the memory and beauty of the original might be preserved.
One of the maybe five Shakespeare plays I am familiar with (12th Night) has a whole scene built around this theme— Cesario trying to talk the beautiful Lady Olivia into marrying the Duke.
After a while the repetition got old and I gave up, but not before I was struck by this image:
When every private widow well may keep
By children’s eyes her husband’s shape in mind.
And I thought, maybe for the first time, how children were, for many eras and cultures, the only way to honor or remember anyone who had been loved and valued by you.
~ ~ ~
Last night I took my oldest daughter with me to a meeting, and while there I introduced myself to someone as my grandmother’s granddaughter, because she looked as though she vaguely remembered me, and I knew the woman had admired her.
She held the hand I offered as she studied my face, then turned to my daughter.
“And who does she look like?” the woman asked, smiling warmly but staring enough to make my 5-year old uncomfortable (which, admittedly, isn’t much). “Who’s eyes does she have? Are they yours?”
Not really sure how to answer, I said some familiar line about her being a remarkably even mix, not favoring anyone, and we went together into the meeting.
There were other women there who knew my parents or grandparents before me, and a round of recognition of my mannerisms were attributed while I smiled and nodded. This hasn’t happened in a long time, but I don’t mind it.
There was an absolute eruption when *just* after this exchange an new woman walked in and said, “You’re Rev. Dave and Sister Florie’s daughter, aren’t you?”
After the meeting I talked with another woman about my Grandmother’s last morning with me, and the first woman, the one I’d introduced myself to, watched us and finally spoke.
“It’s just amazing to watch the children and grandchildren of those you’ve known for years. It’s like your friend is resurrected. Brought back from the dead to stand in front of you.”
And I finally understood the look on her face and felt a tightness in my heart as I wondered if I would wear it one day, too.