Embarking on a new journey
In September 1620, Susanna White stepped aboard the Mayflower along with her husband, William, and her son, Resolved. Before she left, I imagine she sold or gave away most of her possessions to sequester the most practical items, a few keepsakes and her hopes and dreams for the future into whatever trunks she was able to take with her.
Heavily pregnant, she also packed a small crib for her son, Peregrine, who would be born after reaching Cape Cod, but before the pilgrims had the opportunity to disembark. The journey to her new home took about three months.
I thought of Susanna this week, in part because it is that time of year when we look back to what we call the first Thanksgiving. The Mayflower, bound for Virginia, arrived in Massachusetts in November, and the weary travelers had little to celebrate. A harsh winter lay ahead in which nearly half of the pilgrims died.
Fortunately for me, little Peregrine was a seemingly healthy sort who survived and grew up to father children who would have their own children, and, after several generations, I was descended from this hardy stock.
In recent months, our family has sold or given away most of our possessions. We have packed our most practical items, a few keepsakes and our hopes and dreams into a series of boxes which were then crammed into a small moving truck and our van. As I made a few trips back and forth across the 50 or so miles from one home to the next, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to have been Susanna nearly 400 years ago.
Like my predecessor, I embarked on this move while expecting a child, but the similarity ends there. Although we never thought about the threat of marauding pirates, high seas or coming down with a case of scurvy, I did, at one point, face near mutiny of my own when I served pizza and PBJs a few too many times.
Susanna did not have the luxury of going back for the boxes that didn’t fit on the first pass, and there weren’t stores along the way to replenish any supplies she may have forgotten. While I was frustrated that moving day turned into moving week, I didn’t get stuck on a boat in port waiting for the journey to begin, and, unlike the pilgrims on the Mayflower, I ended up precisely where I intended to be at the end of my journey.
Our family is settling into a much smaller house than the one we’ve left, but I know this space is luxurious compared to the close quarters the pilgrims lived in during their journey across the ocean and in their first homes in the New World.
Peregrine’s name means traveler or wanderer, but it appears that he was something of a homebody. Records tell us that Peregrine, the son of adventurers who crossed an ocean in search of religious freedom, lived most of his life close to where the Mayflower first landed. Through the years, his descendants lived out the meaning of his name and settled in various parts of this great country we call home.
I think, sometimes, that I inherited a bit of Susanna’s adventurous spirit. This move we just made, like Susanna’s move onto the ship that was her home for a few months, is temporary. In a few months, we’ll set out on a new Godfrey family adventure, filling up a motor home with necessities and children and setting out to explore America.
But first, like Susanna, I’ll wait for another son to arrive.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Yuba County. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website.