Dear Female Ancestors,
I have decided to do something impossible. I want to communicate back through time and space the love I feel for each and every one of my female ancestors. Human limitations being what they are, of course, I am limited to writing this love letter in my own time and space with the hope that future generations will see it as my testament to you.
There is so much I don’t know about you and your lives and because of my ignorance your hopes, dreams, joys, frustrations and heartbreaks can only be the subject of my wistful conjecture. Your idiosyncrasies, habits, and daily routines are also largely lost to me.
Along with this, over the last few years, as I have been researching my genealogical roots, I have often found that your stories and stories about you have been downplayed, overlooked or simply not told at all.
I have come to the conclusion, when it comes to your lives, for a large number of you, I can only speak in generalities. I can place a number of you in a variety of historical eras and geographical locations and know that you were witnesses to and participants in many of the societal and cultural shifts and events that have shaped the modern world.
The patriarchal rendering of history likes to discount you and anything you may have achieved, accomplished or contributed simply because you were females, but I know you were there—achieving, accomplishing and contributing.
Suffice to say, as much as that thought makes me smile; I hang my head in lamentation when I think of the horrible depths of your suffering as members of my gender have disrespected, defiled, discredited, subjugated, abused, molested, raped and scapegoated you. I imagine your pain at the offenses and crimes committed against you, and my words disappear into despair, and my heart wants to burst in anguish. I am left wishing that you could hear me whispering “they were to blame, not you .”
Bravery, fortitude, courage, and integrity are words usually reserved for males throughout history, but I use them now to help me describe you. You are my heroines. Not in the comic book or superheroine sense, but in something far better—in the human sense, with all of your beautiful scars and flaws. In a world that so often treated you as disposable, said you were never good enough, took everything you had to give and still wanted more and then eternally judged you, you were resilient and courageous as you faced the day to day pressures of this life.
My dear ones, I know what the world called you at times. I am here to say—you were not born into this world to just be sexual playthings or human baby machines. You were never second class citizens, nor did you ever deserve to be mistreated. Progress in the world has been stifled in direct proportion to the amount that you have been stifled.
I know from my research that you were queens, princesses, baronesses, servants, homemakers, patriots, warriors, saints, farmers, philanthropists, artists, writers and a million other things as well being wives and mothers.
I just want to say thank you for giving life to the world through your bodies. I know that sometimes it was in the most harrowing of conditions and that some of you, sadly my precious ones, didn’t survive giving birth or its after effects. Without each and everyone of you, I wouldn’t or couldn’t exist. Your love and compassion still reverberate, and your unfulfilled hopes and dreams live on inside of me.
On a day unknown to me in the future, I will join you as one of those who have physically departed this world. I promise all of you, my beloved ones, until that day, I will never stop fighting to make this world a better place for every human being, especially for all of the girls and women of the world. The reason is that your spirit, like your blood, courses gloriously and sweetly through my veins and will forever, forever propel me forward.
Your son, grandson and great-grandson,
John Michael Antonio