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Living in Cursive

Hope you're well! For the last several weeks, I’ve been helping my parents pack up for their annual fall flight to Florida. I’d take any excuse to squeeze in more time with them. So, I helped them organize and get things in order – much like many of us are instinctually doing to hunker down. This year, that feeling is weightier.

Last night, when I went to say good-bye – not easy sending your parents off in the middle of a pandemic – my mom handed me a folder she found of poems I had written in 1979. I was nine. I read them out loud to her and we were just amazed. We both ooh’ed and aah’ed at my natural talent. We found my dad in the family room and read them all to him, too. Same reaction – totally blown away. They said I was brilliant. Maybe I missed my calling? I was flushed in that familiar schoolgirl feeling of my parents being proud of me. I was proud of me, and they were proud of themselves too. All of us sitting there in our group pride – it was awesome.

There were 11 poems written on wide ruled paper in cursive, more neatly drawn than my handwriting now. Who was this girl? There was one poem about a dandelion solider and one about what home means to me…


Home to me is not a home

Filled with family faces;

Home is where I slide in free

By rounding all the bases.

A tie is not

Clothing like a hat

It means the game is even up

And I wish I were at bat.

I got a “C” on that one. Seriously? I was nine! One particular poem, though, struck me as so timely. I really blew myself away with this one and felt it was worthy of posting given this time…

“Our Nation's Strength”

Not gold but only man can make

A nation great and strong

Men who, for truth and honor's sake,

Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep.

Who dare while others fly –

They build a nation’s pillars deep

And lift them to the sky.

My teacher gave me a “good.” Good? I was NINE. I involuntarily called her a nasty name. Still, with my chest held high, I came home to read them all to my husband, who bluntly told me I had plagiarized. What? How does a nine-year-old know how to plagiarize? I did once copy an entire section on Florida from the Encyclopedia Britannica. I eagerly read it to my dad, who politely told me writing a report does not mean copying the encyclopedia word for word. I also quit Brownies because we didn't make brownies.

But back to my husband. To prove him wrong, I googled “A Nation’s Strength.”

Insert pregnant pause.

Humiliated. Mortified. Some of the poetic words that came to mind. Not only did I not write it, but I had copied the words of RALPH WALDO EMERSON! We cracked up. While I do believe some were mine, we must have written poems to practice our cursive. Grades deserved. Had to be, right? At least I hope so. If not, who was that girl?

I’ve read the full poem many times over and believe the reason it fell in my lap was to be shared, especially now. It had to be the hands of the universe showing me, and now you, that now is the time to live in cursive. To be connected and flow as one together. To love self and those close to you and all people deeper than ever. To make time. To belly laugh more. To laugh at yourself. To cherish every moment.

"A Nation’s Strength"

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

written in 1891

What makes a nation's pillars high

And its foundations strong?

What makes it mighty to defy

The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand

Go down in battle shock;

Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,

Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust

Of empires passed away;

The blood has turned their stones to rust,

Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown

Has seemed to nations sweet;

But God has struck its luster down

In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make

A people great and strong;

Men who for truth and honor's sake

Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,

Who dare while others fly...

They build a nation's pillars deep

And lift them to the sky.

Big love to all. Be safe. Be well...

P.S. My parents thanked me for the good laugh when I told them. Like true parents, they claimed to like my drawings better anyway. But that's a funnier story for another day...


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