Thursday, March 27, 2014


I have spent the last several days sorting through old family photos, in an attempt to create some semblance of order.  Most of these people have long passed and their sepia toned faces only recognized  by my parents.  I look at these smiling faces and, without first hand knowledge, make assumptions about their lives based upon location, manner of dress, and the way in which  they hold themselves.

There is the elderly couple standing close together on a front porch, him boldly facing the camera as she, turned slightly into him, leaves little doubt of his position of protector.  While the porch is a bit austere, I can see pride of place in the carefully swept steps and tidy little flowers planted along the walk.  The gentleman faces the world headlong, his slightly stooping shoulders revealing a hard earned satisfying life. When my attention turns to the lady I see just that, a lady.  Her plain day dress, simple and utilitarian in design, does nothing to disguise her dignified carriage identifies her as the matriarch.  My mother later affirmed my assumptions.
This lady was of a time when the dignity of the southern matron was the highest standard and I mourn the passing of this genteel time.

There were many of these ladies in my life growing up and I am much richer for having been witness to their fine example.

Southern matrons connect us to our past and our family foundation.  They represent lives lived in service to God, family, the South, and country.  They are the keeper of our history, our stories, and our secrets.  A Southern matron has spent her entire life in preparation for this title.  She has perfected her demeanor and dress, reflecting refinement rather than fashion.  In the South aging gracefully is upheld in great reverence.

Last year I copied the following onto a slip of paper and tucked it into my bible. Unfortunately, I can not remember the source, but I am in the authors debt. These questions, asked of self daily, serve to remind me to strive to do better...strive to become the Southern matriarch I will someday be.

What is the legacy we may leave? 
Do we live in honor of the old-fashioned ways:  disciplined faith, a serene grace, letter writing, unfailing manners, proper dress, dignified comportment? 
What will photographs reveal of us? 
 Do we dress for this most holy, most important position?  
Are we the essence of timeless femininity? 
 Will photographs of us reveal mere dated trend?  
Will our descendants see over-burdened, disheveled, unhealthy victims of our own undoing? 
 Do we present our most dignified self at our most vulnerable moments? 
 Are we majestic oaks, roots deep and true?  
Or, are we clinging moss, tossed with each change of the winds?  
Are we living in preparation for the matriarch we will one day be? 

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