Mary Wiseman as Martha Washington and Tricia O'Neill-Politte an interpreter at Mount Vernon Estate.

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.