Finding the Glorious Ones – What my Aunt Lillian taught me

When the leaves fall – and summer gives way to autumn.

I walk to escape that which would devour my soul.

The melancholy beckons and I shut down.

My thoughts oscillate between the searing pangs of loss – and the realization that love is truly the segue to a better place than this.

I think of them everyday – the souls who are some of my greatest heroes.

My Elders and those who have gone on to their reward – the Ancients.

A snapshot of the Elders and Ancients.

But.

It used to be just Halloween that had the painful resonance – as it was the day that my Aunt Lillian left this place.

From left to right: My Grandma, Father, my Mother and my Great Aunt Lillian.

My Aunt Lillian was one of the most beautiful souls that I will ever encounter. She had this gift of planting a seed whenever I was in her orbit – it was as if she knew something that I didn’t.

I used to sit between them and listen to the stories of our people – hanging on their every word when I was growing up, it was these same stories I used to trace our roots.

I always likened her to a Guardian Angel. I remember playing baseball in the lot next to my Grandmother’s house when I was a boy accompanied by my brother and some neighborhood kids. Due to my not paying attention – in short order:

In carefree days – circa 1978

I got struck in the head, screamed out with pain and with blood spewing from my head I faded to black. I woke up with my head swaddled with a towel and my Aunt Lillian holding me, telling me it would be okay… and it was.

When I left home for college… Things went South, I lost my way, but my Auntie spoke words that led me back (circa 1994-95)

Years later… When I fathomed dropping out of college and figuring “whatever” out as I went along, I called my Auntie.

The tumbling leaves remind me of the Ancients.

The leaves of the trees were like they are now – a kaleidoscope of colors and the air had the beginnings of the cold that was to come. We spoke about a host of things, but it was her telling me:


“Nephew… I hear to you studying to be a writer out there… that’s good son. Shit! If you got a story you better tell it. You don’t got no time to be sitting around like a bump on the log, we only here for a little bit!”

Little did I know that her words would echo…

Her consistency spoke volumes – seemingly dropping a gem on me that she knew would echo when I needed it the most.

My Aunt passed shortly after we spoke and I remember crying myself into the void of what masqueraded as sleep for weeks afterward. I ended up completing my undergraduate studies, earning a degree in Journalism, powered in part by those words from my Auntie.

Years later, after earning my MBA, I had a rude awakening when I realized that I was one those people who derived their identity from their corporate parent – a faux love that could never be reciprocated.

Coming to terms that I was simply a commodity instead of a person was a tortuous process that happened in stages after a head on collision in 2012 during my return from a business trip.

We were a butt in the seat – as one of the C-level Executives called us.
When I returned to work following my accident – only a handful people asked how I was.

I accepted that I would die in my car on that day, but I remember my Auntie and Grandma pushing me out of the car… She told me “that I had work to do“, I struggled with what my survival meant in the aftermath of the accident. Before accepting the uncomfortable truth –

I had placed my faith and allegiance in the wrong places and when I hung my head in shame…

The words of my Auntie echoed with a force that would lead to one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

The African American Civil War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C has the names of several of my Ancestors listed – including my Aunt Lillian’s Great Grandfather, Church Tipton, my 3rd Great Grandfather.

Copyright © 2020 ShunPwrites. All Rights Reserved.

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About Shun P. Writes

Author, Amateur Genealogist, Writer, Poet, possessor of 2 cents, blogger and eternal student of life, who harbors a firm belief in his Grandmother's mantra that: "People need to get off of their rump and do something". All while keeping in mind that a cheering section will often get in the way.