Perpetual strength

Tuesday , September 11, 2012 - 12:23 PM

Tara Keyes

Shallow roots run in my family. Much like Redwood trees whose root systems don’t appear to be long or deep enough to sustain them, I lack a long line of ancestors who possess qualities which build spirit. How can the future be positive when you don’t have a substantive past?

Roots do several things for a tree: they give nourishment to branches, enable them to overcome adverse conditions, and provide stability. But the branches shouldn’t be forgotten because they use the nutrients from the roots to make food for the tree and this in turn reinforces the roots. For most of my life, I have longed for that one exemplary ancestor — the "deep root" who would give me strength, and inspire me to grow tall and majestic. I mostly jest when I say that instead of "deep" roots, our family inherited "diseased" roots.

My parents likewise yearned for deep roots. They used the freedoms given them in America to stop the cycle of growth-inhibiting choices and seek better things for their children — thus strengthening their own roots. My father especially instilled in me a sacred love of liberty, education, and nature. The result is a first-generation college graduate and a mother with a deep sense of purpose.

When I look at the real heroes in my own life — the ones who propel me forward — they are undoubtedly my daughters. Rather than the roots, I am tied to the branches. Mine is the unique opportunity to directly influence five future mothers in America!

The heroines in my life possess special qualities that enable them to give others "AmeriCAN spirit." They demonstrate competence, perseverance, determination, joy, and peace in troubled times. Through the examples of Madalyn, Cadence, Karalyn, Emmalee, and Lilyann Keyes, I have gained greater abilities to overcome apathy and ignorance. Their "CAN-DO Spirit" is present because they don’t let anger, disabilities, imperfect parents, immaturity, or lack of opportunities stop them from achieving their dreams.

One experience in particular has bound me to my daughters’ sense of spirit. Madalyn, fresh out of Kindergarten, insisted upon singing in an adult community patriotic choir alongside me. Amazingly, she learned both the music and written words to the anthems of the armed services, as well the Star-Spangled Banner, and several patriotic medleys. Flags and trees decorated the outdoor stage while families gathered in the park to listen. In the hour we sang together, I and a thousand others witnessed a "deep" root as we watched a tiny girl share her heart-felt gratitude for America through song. She proved that kids "CAN-DO" anything.

Interestingly, it is the lack of deep roots that has led me to a "CAN-DO" life. As with Redwoods, if the shallow roots intertwine amongst others around them, it creates a super-strong network that withstands storms.

By combining with these young "AmeriCANS," we "DO" uphold the principles of family, faith, and freedom that our country first built upon its then-shallow roots.

Keyes lives in Harrisville.

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