One year ago to the day that I tendered a final farewell to my Father from this realm – I said my final goodbyes to my Grandmother.
That same numb feeling that radiated throughout my body then – returned with a vengeance bringing me to my knees in omnipresent convulsions of emotions.
Over the past couple of years – I’ve started referring to death as a transition to the Pantheon of the Ancestors – as the tacit acceptance that this place isn’t our home finally begins to take root.
The news that my Grandmother had passed was unexpected – as I just saw her a couple of days prior, after a pop-up book signing in Chicago the week before last.
She was as sharp as a tack – we talked and we both laughed from down deep.
In the week since – I’ve been an empty shell of sorts.
I place my Bigmama on a pedestal – because she is more than worthy.
I can’t refer to her in the past tense – because I can feel her spirit.
Throughout my life I’ve sat her feet and listened to the stories of my family, entranced by the love and resilience of our “folks”.
In one of my darkest hours – when I had lost myself.
This majestic woman looked at me defiantly and said two words that shook me from my dark place and she said:
I asked about her fear in going to a new city from the South during World War II, after her husband (my Grandfather) was drafted into the Army – a place where she only knew her Aunt Lee and couple of family members.
And she told me:
“Shit! Scared for what? I had to make a way for myself, nobody else was gonna help me sitting around crying and feeling sorry for myself. Naw, I was too busy to be scared!”
At that moment – the resilience that she always wore with grace and a humility that shone like a thousand suns – made me whole again and I knew that I had to be better, because I too had that power as her Grandson.
I haven’t been scared since.
When I was broken on that day.
My Bigmama made me whole, by reminding me of who I needed to be, I documented this conversation and others in essays and a series on my Ancestors.
I had to understand where this ethereal love that I saw manifested in the assorted members of my family…
Where it came from?
Based on the power that she spoke into me on that day…
I started searching for my people – trying to understand the underpinnings of why…
This love, selflessness, faith and fealty to family was something burned into the confines of my DNA.
And as I’ve found hundreds of my people around the country – breaking bread, pouring libations, laughing from the pit of our souls.
I’ve seen the same power wielded by my Bigmama in my family members – and it humbled me.
While many discard the notion of family as outdated or trivial, I’d be remiss not to speak that same power to those who I share these shoulders with – doing anything less would be treasonous.
You taught me that family is the most important element in the Universe and I am grateful to serve as one of the stewards of the history that you compelled me to find.
To be accepted as your Grandson and student is a honor one that I will always strive to be worthy of.
I wish you a peaceful Journey into the Pantheon of the Ancestors – rest easy.
I love you Bigmama!
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