You Were: Betsy Ross
July 4, 2010
(Who Were You? #9)
Yes, the Betsy Ross. Quelle coincidence, n’est ce pas? (For those of you from other lands, legend has always had it that Betsy sewed the first American flag for George Washington. She didn’t. But she was a cool chick.)
I could use this opportunity to tell you what Betsy really did during America’s Revolutionary War. (Never trust a history book.) But I’ll leave that revelation to enterprising historians. What’s most important now is that there’s someone you need to find. You knew him as Betsy, you knew him before Betsy, and you may know him in this life. If not, I suggest you start looking.
In 1752, you/Betsy were born into a Philadelphia Quaker family. As you were growing up, your father enforced the strictest discipline and insisted his seventeen children dress only in the drabbest clothing. You would have said it was like being in the army, if your whole family hadn’t been conscientious objectors.
Hard work was a cornerstone of your father’s beliefs, and the very day you finished school you were sent to work for an upholsterer. That’s where you would meet the love of you life/lives, John Ross.
From the first moment you set foot in the shop, the tall boy with dark blond hair couldn’t seem to stop watching you. And though you’d always been taught the importance of modesty, you soon found yourself trading glances with him. Maybe he seemed oddly familiar. Maybe you liked his wide, warm smile. Or maybe he was just smoking hot. (He was.) Whatever the reason, when the work day was over you allowed John to walk you home. (Not all the way, of course. That was too much for a first date.)
You had never held a conversation with a man who wasn’t a relative. But you immediately felt comfortable in John Ross’s company. He was funny, even outrageous at times. (His impersonation of your boss was particularly scandalous.) You laughed more on that first walk home than you’d been allowed to laugh throughout your entire childhood.
When, toward the end of your stroll, John told you that he’d lived other lives, you decided to share the secret you’d been hiding from your family for fifteen years. He was the only person you ever told.
Six months after your first meeting with John Ross, the two of you eloped and were married at a New Jersey tavern. Your cold-hearted father never spoke to you again, and you were kicked out of the Quaker church. But you didn’t care. Finally, you’d found the family you wanted.
Sadly, your bliss didn’t last long. Just two years after you were married, John Ross was killed while fighting the British. It’s a true testament to your character that you chose to go on. Throughout the war you did your best to keep American troops supplied with uniforms, blankets, and tents. You even married twice more, but it was never the same.
Whenever you felt down, you would walk the same route you walked that first day with John. Even when you were very old, you could be seen hobbling down the path that led from the upholstery shop to your father’s home. You’d think of the secret you had shared with John and know in your heart that you’d meet him again at some point in the future.