My Bigmama was 97 years old when she joined the Ancients.
As I’ve come to discover, it isn’t unusual for people in the maternal line of my family to live into their 90’s… with many making it to the century mark and beyond.
For instance, my 4th Great Grandfather, Peter Branch, who was a veteran of the Civil War died at the ripe old age of 100.
One of the secrets of longevity in my people? Is this otherworldly ability to adapt, compartmentalize and convert.
I always saw this force in the form of my Grandmother…
Whenever I inquired about the roadblocks facing her during different times of her life.
My Bigmama was always apt to say:
Racism in the Jim Crow South, limited opportunities and the unknown… against the backdrop of promise that Chicago offered Black people at the time, she told me:
“Shit…. I hopped my rump on that train Friday… got there on Sunday and had me a job on Monday!
This expectation… that she was supposed to fit into a box and just conform – irked her spirit and those like her (her sisters) ie; my Great Aunts… they never lived in conformity, actually they laughed at it, heartily and they passed this gift onto their children.
Shortly after my Grandparents married – my Paw-Paw got drafted into the Army, but before he shipped out, he gave her a mandate… one that she summarily ignored. He expected her to move in with his Mother or that she move back home with her Mother, until he returned from the War.
My Bigmama was unyielding and her tort reply spoke volumes:
“Shit… he wasn’t gonna tell me what to do…”Hell… I was going to Chicago!“
And… she got there on May 27th, 1945 and she was joined by her sisters, my Great Aunts Lillian and Helen… it was the stories of the opportunities afforded Black people in the factories from their Aunt Lea that lead them here.
When the war ended and my Grandfather was he discharged, he was incredulous that she was in Chicago… her reply:
“What you thought? You ain’t gon’ be telling me what to do!
So Chicago it was… and they made a life of it.
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