A Young Historian’s Meditation on the Living and the Dead

I spend my days among the dead, the ancient and the old,

I haunt the halls of history, the dusty and the cold.

The pages cannot speak to me, the paper has no face,

The letters cannot laugh with me, the ink gives no embrace.

And yet I love discovery, I live in days gone by,

I love the who, what, where, and when, the whether and the why.

But now that one I dearly love is drawing near to death,

And edging ever closer to her last and final breath,

I find myself rebuked for seeing with the eyes of youth,

And failing to appreciate a plain and simple truth:

That archives, graves, and libraries will never disappear,

But kindred, friends, and family will leave us year by year.

If I should wish to hear the voice of one who’s gone before,

Why would I not give equal time, in fact, why not give more,

To those who live, to those who love, to those that yet remain,

To those we know, to those we see, to those who share our name?

No manuscript or signature, no photograph or note,

Can substitute or replicate a grandpa’s anecdote.

No treasure of the ancient world can rival or replace

The loving tender kindness of a grandma’s smiling face.

No comfort and no luxury will equal or compare,

To simple joys like hearth and home when family is there.

We waste our time with pixeled screens, with that which matters not,

Neglecting those who will, one day, be only in our thoughts.

And if we fail to take the time to spend our days with them,

How poor will be our reminiscing in memoriam?

Begin to know them from the day they leave their mother’s womb,

And stay with them until their body lies within a tomb.

Give honor to the hoary head, give honor to great age;

Give honor to the faithful, and the loving, and the sage.

Do not neglect to know your line, to know your family tree,

Or you will know remorse, regret, toward your ancestry.

So speak to them and be with them, and know their history,

Before they slip away from you into antiquity.

And fill your life with family, with lifelong souvenirs,

With stories, tales, and memories that last throughout the years.

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