Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sweetest Sixteen

One realizes he/she is getting old when the youngest child reaches early adulthood. There is a 22-year spread between my four daughters, enough years between each of them to have seen them grow up without being in another one's shadow. I'm proud to say that they all are high achievers but also more importantly great human beings. One's success in life isn't measured in material wealth or power but in the way one's children are. In this regard I'm among the most successful on the planet.

The youngest of them and the only one still home, Sarah, turned sixteen yesterday. In many ways I feel a unique closeness to her as she resembles how I was then, except in a greatly improved version. We share our values, our love for music, and our compassion for others. She is the only one who has ever been able to beat me in a Finnish card game that even my incredibly smart mother refused to play with me. Sarah thinks very similarly to me and anticipates my unorthodox moves; often I'm dumbfounded when she ends up victorious even when I have had a better hand and clearly should have won. But she also has the warmest heart of anyone: her love knows no bounds. To borrow the line at the end of Goonies: she is my best invention.

Last night I saw this poem on a large poster for her humanities class and with Sarah's permission publish it here:

I Am From My Sense of Belonging

I am from Mother Earth,
Born from her beautiful belly
In allegros and minuets
A melody in
Eb major.

I am from cultures intertwined,
Finnish vodka
Jewish wine
And a drop of mystery
Middle Eastern moonshine.

I am from Frida Kahlo,
Not knowing my insecurities
Would stem from every
Hair follicle;
But I am from Sisu,
My sisters of strength, and
Depth, and
Stubborn intelligence that lurks
Beneath dark curls.

I am from happiness,
Reverberating on the peripheral
Of my vision;
The sun melting on the playground,
The scent of a mowed lawn
And woodchips
Inviting through an open window.

I am from an introvert,
The coffee-sipping dragon
Who shares with me his shy
And sensitivity,
I am from a heart that thumps

I am from Rugrats and grape popsicles,
From rollerblading to
Slip'n slides,
From the friendships of
Satu and Hilary.

I am from my sense of belonging,
The address I could repeat
A thousand times over
From memory,
I am from home.

By Sarah Talvi