The formation of another colorful masterpiece revealed itself as always at this hour, illuminating the ancient remains. The Gods were smiling down, emitting a golden light on their earthly palace. Yes, those were the writer’s immediate thoughts as she adoringly viewed this spectacle created long ago, a time where heaven and earth seemed to collide. Her writings reflected her love for this imprint on civilization. Tomorrow, she will experience the most significant moment in her life.
The writer looked at her gnarled hands, badges of a life well-lived. The bulging veins and spots on these powerful instruments showed the ravages of age. She knew that time was our most precious resource and was appreciative of her longevity. The writer also recognized she used these years productively, savoring every moment and sharing with the world the majesty from centuries before. Her ultimate goal? The writer desired to impress upon people young and old the magnitude of gifts provided by these past luminaries. She adamantly believed it was a crime to deprive students of an understanding of the ancients’ impact on western civilization.
Surveying the historical site, the writer thought about her parents. She imagines they will be there with her in spirit tomorrow. She closes her eyes for a moment envisioning the joy they are experiencing as they gaze at their daughter from their celestial home. The writer wells up reflecting on her childhood. How wise her parents were. They refused to acquiesce to the pressure of having their children taught in the newfound public education system, recognizing each of their children’s unique gifts required special attention. As a result, her parents determined homeschooling was the best way to serve their offspring. The writer opened her eyes and nodded her head in the affirmative. “Little did you know, my beloved parents, how far all of us would go.”
The writer began to think about her siblings. Each of them was successful in their own right. Who would believe Alice could permeate the male-dominated toxicology field and become the first female appointed to a faculty post at Harvard? “Oh Alice, what a role model you are for future generations of young women.”
Norah, she laughed affectionately, was always the social justice warrior worrying about the underdog. “Mom and Dad, she took your values to heart.” Yes, no surprise that Norah would be one of the first to teach art to underprivileged children in Chicago and, then, New York. Norah’s generosity and desire to serve had no bounds.
Without disappointment, Margaret held her own. The writer’s heart burst as she thought about her amazing sister, who became renowned in the fields of education and biochemistry. Another superb example for girls who dream. “I am so proud of you, Margaret.”
Finally, the writer thought lovingly of her only brother. He could not have gone astray with his dominant sisters clucking around him. Arthur loudly conveyed to them that he would not be left behind. As a child, he would write stories and show his sister. The writer would compliment, encouraging him to keep going. As adults, they confided in each other about their latest articles.
Along the way, her accomplished brother developed a love for the Spanish language and became fluent. He extended his education to teach it at the college level, eventually becoming the dean for international students at the University of Illinois. The writer shook her head and beamed. “There is no way, little brother, that you would allow your sisters to overshadow you. I know you must realize how thrilled we were for you.”
The writer’s research showed that they appeared to be the first to participate in such revelry, honoring the god they worshipped.
After shutting her eyes again, the writer’s mind wandered, imagining another time where gifted, sinewy men revealed their athletic prowess. There in the sacred spot, she could see these remarkable men “play” and compete. The writer’s research showed that they appeared to be the first to participate in such revelry, honoring the god they worshipped. Her daydreaming invited her to expand her thoughts. She nodded and smiled to herself. She now envisioned athletic, courageous women riding the chariots, being the only sport thought to be allowed in the predominantly male activities. Suddenly, she remembered the games for unmarried women in honor of another god, picturing their participation. “How could I forget? Even back then, this remarkable civilization tried to be forward-thinking.”
Soon she directed her thoughts to the belief that these ancients celebrated individuality. The writer opened her eyes and looked at her aging fingers. “I am so pleased each of us has fingertips like no others,” ruminating for a few moments about her greatest fear for humankind. “Everyone is afraid of nuclear bombs. I am most disturbed about losing the uniqueness of each human being.”
The writer yawned and realized she needed to prepare for the dinner. She knew that she would retire earlier than her companions. She wanted to be rested and restored for the next day, where she would be honored for her work. The nonagenarian said to herself, “I am sure they will understand that women of a certain age need their beauty rest.” She readied herself for what she imagined to be a sumptuous dinner of her favorites, Chicken Soup Avoglemono, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Moussaka, and for dessert, Baklava, knowing she would have only a few tastings of each. She smiled with contentment, “How blessed I am to have all of this,” readying herself for what was to come.
Author’s Note: For those of us mandated to study the Humanities during the seventies, we are most familiar with ancient Greek literature, including Greek mythology. Edith Hamilton’s book about the gods is ageless. She brought to life the great myths developed by those ancients so long ago. My favorite is Cupid and Psyche. It was a sign of events to come. Psychology is the study of the soul.
I loved ancient Greek and Roman literature and history. I remembered reading the play “Antigone,” studying the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and studying the art and architecture of that time. I cannot, however, recall the details.
I did not know of Ms. Hamilton’s extensive influence on providing the world with such a vast picture of these remarkable people. Her parents were, indeed, emphatic about tutoring their most precious assets, and look what they created. Their highly accomplished children were the results of their dedication. Ms.Hamilton received honorary doctorate degrees from Yale, the University of Rochester, and Pennsylvania. Also, she did not begin her writing career until her fifties after retiring as head administrator for a college preparatory school for girls in Baltimore. Her first book was not published until she was age 62.
Ms. Hamilton’s passion for the ancient Greeks was without limitations. She loved their capacity for celebrating the individuality of human development and worried about its loss.
At age 90, she was honored by Greece as an honorary citizen of Athens. She proclaimed it was “the proudest moment of her life.”
In this story, I imagined Ms. Hamilton gazing at the Acropolis.
Every one of us can learn from Ms. Hamilton. First of all, during these trying times of attempting to erase history, we must never forget the contributions of these ancients. Secondly, we can continue to thrive and not just survive as we reach certain milestones in our lives. Taking the quote from George Eliot, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Ms. Hamilton is a stunning example of this.