Smiles Through Sorrow
A dedication to Lady Washington
So aptly portrayed by Mary Wiseman
My daughter died today.
Dear Patsy who was but seventeen,
Another piece of my heart broken and dissolved in tears
I clasped her precious hand and thought I would not survive this time
My babies, Daniel, and too many others . . .
Then I felt your hand on my shoulder,
A reminder you shared my grief, and I was not alone.
Your quiet, wordless strength gave me comfort,
And I smiled up at you through my sorrow.
The war began today.
A Revolution like no other,
Standing tall, you were their chosen Commander of course.
You clasped me close and bade farewell, saying the country needed you.
I could not bear the long separation,
Gathering medicines and blankets, I went to you in the terrible winters.
Our poor soldiers, ravaged by hunger and shivering in the snow,
Thanked me as my tears welled,
But I smiled at them through my sorrow.
My son died today.
Not in battle, but of fever, a worse enemy to me.
His young wife and I hastened from our home,
And you from battle, to where he lay.
We watched the waning of his bright, young life.
At home, I gathered his little ones to my breast,
Knowing they will scarce remember their dear father.
I gazed upon them and saw my Jacky in their sweet faces.
And I smiled at them through my sorrow.
My husband died today.
Not a general, not a president, but my Beloved.
The nation mourns, but cannot match the depth of my despair.
Your dear letters both comfort me and renew my grief
As I read them one last time and watch each slowly burn,
The wisps of smoke remind me of the days that are no more
But my memories last, forty-one years of a shared life.
Knowing I shall soon follow, I lift my face to the heavens
And I smile up at you through my sorrow.
— Tricia O’Neill-Politte
The writer is an interpreter at Mount Vernon Estate.