I sat there between them grinning broadly – allowing them free rein to speak without interrupting…
“Them Watkins… We called them Big Grandma and Big Granddaddy, not because of they standing… because… they was well off, but they were big people” as he started chuckling – we called my Daddy’s folks Little Grandma and Little Granddaddy, they were little peop…” and my Bigmama chimed in at that point…
“Yah, but Aunt Lee and Aunt Icie didn’t like us calling them that”, she recalled.
Unc paused for a moment before responding.
“Shit… They shoool’ didn’t, but we did it anyway!”
And they both leaned back howling hilariously and like always – I was pulled into the vortex of laughing from the… center of my soul.
Often it was instances like this – me absorbing these stories through the osmosis of love – being still, listening to them talk about our “folk”. This was the method that I employed in gathering the history from my Elders from the time that I was a little boy.
“This is why those stories were burned into my soul… And why they never referred to our people in the past tense.”Taken from “Being Worthy – These shoulders I stand on”.
In my research I discovered that my Great Great Grandparents, Will and Fannie Watkins were held in high esteem in their small Alabama town, which drew the ire of some of the white residents. Given that the Watkins were proud people of means they deftly combined resources with the other Black families in the surrounding area – as their daughter, my Great Grandmother, married the namesake of a noted Civil War veteran known throughout the region.
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To be continued…