Poet’s Note: This poem was written for the Relf family reunion. J.R. Relf was my wife Anola’s paternal great-grandfather. He and Woodrow Wilson’s wife were direct descendants of Pocahontas. -TS
Remember women hold up half the sky;
J.R. Relf could not have created all of you
Without his three wives.
J.R. Relf abandoned the savage Jim Crow terror of Alabama for the less savage Jim Crow terror of Oklahoma.
J.R. Relf, like a tall oak tree, spread his roots
Down into the rich soil of Oklahoma to bear forth
Fifteen branches which flowered into seeds
Which spread from coast to coast,
From South to North,
From East to West,
From Alabama to Michigan,
From California to Ohio.
His fruit blossomed forth into all colors:
From creamy white
To coal black,
From high yellow
To tangerine tan.
His roots mingled the blood
Of Native Americans
Of African Americans
And of European Americans
To become proud Americans.
The Relf tradition is a family tradition
Passed down from each generation.
The Relf tradition teaches us:
To nourish our young,
To teach our young both discipline and love,
To shelter our families,
To develop ourselves not only
To help our families,
But to help the Populus Mundi.
The Relf tradition teaches us above all
To nourish our elders.
Let us pass this tradition down
To our future generations unborn.
Tonight, we are all Relfs.