Henry and Anna's great great great grandfather is Eugene Field.
Hmmm....the name doesn't ring a bell? Well, it didn't for me either, until I became part of the Cox/Atwood/Field family when I married Ray. I have since learned that Eugene Field was one of the more prolific and well-known poets/writers of the mid to late 19th century. He was particularly well known for his children's literature and was often referred to as "The Children's Poet."
Ever hear of the poem "Wynken, Blynken and Nod?" That is Eugene Field.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew....
Or "The Sugar PlumTree"
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
Tis a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town....
A few years back, I found Eugene Field's collected works on Ebay. It is a beautiful set of first edition books. Most often, the books sit on the shelves in our living room looking studious and well, bookish. But from time to time, the kids will take them down, mostly so they can look at "Old Grandpa."
Henry and Anna will stare at the picture of "Old Grandpa" in the front of each volume. They ask questions about his life and his writing, and I tell what I know, as little as that may be.
I can just see how amazing they think it is for one of their own to have written so many books. To have written ALL the words on ALL the pages. To have been famous in his time. They are connected to him. They could be like him. A writer. A poet. Well-known, respected. Doing what he was meant to do.
I try not to push the lesson too hard, but it is always there, each time we pick up the books....I just can't help myself:
Be who you are.
Do what comes natural to you.
Become your best self.
Henry will usually just thumb through the book, and pick up what words he can on the pages. But Anna will recount full-blown stories. Her own interpretation, that is. I'll tell her the title of the book or of a poem, and she will run with it, sharing what she imagines is written. On and on she'll "read," turning the book to her audience (me) from time to time, so I can see the page as well.
I think Old Grandpa would be pleased.
So, I have to share one more amazing thing I learned while I was doing a little Eugene Field research tonight. This is from Wikipedia:
"Field's father, attorney Roswell Martin Field, was famous for his representation of Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom. Field filed the complaint in this famous case (Dred Scott vs. John Sandford [sic], referred to as the lawsuit that started the Civil War) on behalf of Scott in the federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, which is how the case got to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Really? The Dred Scott attorney??? SO cool! Now the kids have even more to live up to!! Tomorrow morning's breakfast conversation just took on a whole new life, for sure.