Friday, July 04, 2008
My dear Paul.
Yes, I see you a few rows over there with a fancy grave marker. People dressed in the attire of our "day" wander in and out of this graveyard all day, pointing you out. Some people leave you flowers. Nearly all of them point small devices at your grave, stopping for a few extra moments.
And where am I? Your beloved wife. Woman who bore you 8 children. Yes, count them. 8.
Nearly four rows over...buried next to your father. Who, forgive me for saying so, is a miserable grave companion.
On this day of days Paul, let me remind you of just who did the work of revolution in this fair city. Was it you and your friends? Oh, perhaps as recorded in the poems and histories of the events. But we both know who it was. The wives. The wives who spun and sewed the clothing. The wives who cooked and served meals for children, friends and co-conspirators until late into the night. While your friend Sam Adams gets a huge statue down the road, we know who the real brewers were, right? Women.
We gardened, we harvested, we preserved and slaughtered the animals. We made soap, washed, quilted, stuffed beds with straw. When you came home at all hours of the night, I made sure you had food to eat, and a warm home in which to enter. I nursed and cared for 8 babies...until I died not long after our youngest was born.
Who stitched wounds, bandaged cuts, and wrapped the dead after the massacre and battles? Women. Who brewed that tea that you all eventually went crazy over for being too expensive? Who then served it to you in the silver mugs that you crafted? Yes. Me and the other wives.
Paul, ,my love, I am not saying that you and the other "founding patriots" of the day don't deserve recognition for your commitment to an idea that a society could be different. I am merely suggesting that the visitors to this grave yard do as Abigail Adams later exhorted her husband John - to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors."
Yes Paul. I watch you from over here. I watch the stream of people wander by you, struck silent by you - the midnight rider ( by the by, I thought that poem was pure hilarity - I know I was dead when it all occurred, and I felt for your second wife, Rachel...You galloping off into the night, with ten children at home. The poor woman was sure that you would be hanged before the sun came up.)
This woman stops at my grave. She peers at the name engraved on the stone. She brushes mud off the letters, as the damp spring ground sucks at her boots. She walks back over the sign near your grave and reads. She comes back, kneels close and points one of those devices at my stone. She stays awhile. She leans close, and in that terrible accent the people here have acquired, she whispers "Thank you, Sarah".
Yes Paul. She thanked me. She thanked me for weaving the fabric of the country with my body and my work. She thanked me for feeding and cooking and bearing new citizens.
She whispered that it is not an act of heroics, or lofty speeches that make a patriot, but the unending toil that is life.
Indeed, Paul. That is what patriotism is - it is stoicism in the face of endless work. It is doing what is needed, not for acclaim, but because without that labor, life as we know it would halt. It is seeing your giant grave over there, and living with the knowledge that without me, without all of the wives, the American Revolution would have gone nowhere.
Happy Independence Day Paul Revere.
Posted by Dawn at 8:49 PM