Where do I come from?
I’ve been wanting to free write for a while. But free writing seems far more expressive and intimate than any blog post.
I first got the idea from BasseyWorld and have been meaning to do it for months….but it takes a certain level of steeliness to do a free write.
I mean, you let the world in on unfiltered free thoughts…that’s judgment central.
Here goes my first. I’m sensitive about my shittttttt…
After, some incidents over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about my family.
My maternal family, rather–because those are the only people that I know.
I don’t know much about my paternal family that well, their mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, the things that irk them and stuff.
My father chose to distance himself from me, even from the first day of my birth…primarily for a lot of other reasons outside of me.
But one of those reasons was because I was born a girl.
But, that’s another story for another day. (my father and his sister coerced my teenaged mother to abort me, but when they got to the clinic. They were a few days past the legal limit…talk about God? eh? I was coming.)
But yea. Hell yea… My people. My maternal people.
My maternal people…McGlocktons, Berrieums, Berrians, Williams.
The people who claimed me.
The people who said I mattered.
The people who instilled in my grandmother that every body, every life, matters and that no child is to be took “(i.e. abortion) regardless of circumstance. (my grandmother heard my father trying to convince my mother to have an abortion and told my mother not to do it. But my mother went anyway. These people are the only reason that I am HERE.).
These are the beautiful, brown, strong people that I know.
My uncle Alec,
my grandmother/great grandmother’s Jerry,
Great grand Orie,
Aunts Alice, Margee, Rachel, Girtha
Uncle Joseph, Sonny, Charles,
Dignified. Beautiful Black Souls.
Sugar Cane Farms.
Mules named Cora.
Respectable Beautiful brown bodies.
I’ve always been extraordinarily proud to be from them.
They are from the most RURALest of areas.
The Rock bluffs, the red rock of my town, but strong and absolutely gorgeous beautiful souls. (check out that picture from an 8 year old Christmas gathering)
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve come in contact with the idea that almost all people were not raised by huge rambling southern families. I didn’t know that people didn’t have big families to go home to at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New year’s. I just didn’t know. I’ve always thought black families were big. HUGE. This is all I’ve ever seen. Big black families.
You see, my family is hundreds deep. At family reunions we do this count thing…1, 2, 3, 4, 5….102…and we count everyone who is there.
Babies, teens, young adults, seniors. Everyone is accounted for. Every person is SEEN. No one is invisible. We are all persons. We all matter. (it took seminary school for me to understand the significance of having all black bodies being seen and counted!!!)
We all make it into the minutes of that year’s Reunion to be remembered for the rest of our lives.
I didn’t know that people didn’t have these large rambling families until I moved to New York.
Growing up in the south, going to to school in the south, kind of spoiled me.
Everyone I knew had big families.
(Everyone had 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th cousins. Everyone knew their grandmother, great grandmother, great-grand mother. We knew our family land, where our grand parents were brought into the world via MID WIVES!!!!)
And, if your mother was too young to raise you, or unfit, or too wild, or in a bad space, you were never put up for adoption. We are never given away to anyone outside of our family. Someone in the most immediate of your family would welcome you as their son or daughter.
In fact, when a new baby is born in my big family, and extended family, there’s always talk about…
“do you want the baby, because if not…Mary, Sam, Joan…someone wants the baby. And would take him/her as their own.”
The people I know are serious about new life.
We are serious about the divine gift of new life.
My great grand father’s hand made the church in which I learned about God. We are a spiritual people.
We are godly people. We know God, we love God, we want to do good by God.
And we ache if there is ever a child who is given to anyone outside of the immediate clan. (we ached for decades about a baby who was given away, trust me. This familial grief was real, and we all felt it). This I do know.
My grandmother has always said,
“never abort a baby, because you never know, that baby will keep you out of the nursing home.”
That’s kind of glib, and very un-21st century….but, you know maybe she’s right.
She’ll never know a nursing home because she’s loved intimately, deeply, dearly, honestly, earnestly, unabashedly, by too many of us.
One of my professor’s, Dr. Cone, had us do a reading and suggested that we love our parents with eros love…I scoffed at the time. But I believe he is right now. He is, in his 70s, he must know what he’s talking about.
One time a friend visited me during the Christmas break. It was cold and we were sitting in her car because it was just a bit too coldand she watched as my grandmother watered the plants.
And she watched as ALL of the animals around the house clamored for my grandma’s attention.
And she remarked that my grandmother loves and is loved (by her nurturing acitons).
I had never seen the watering of plants, feeding of animals that way, but my god–she was right.
My grandmother was loving.
There are literally 100s of us who would do absolutely anything for her.
We would all give up all of our possessions for her spirit to be at rest while she’s on this earth.
We don’t play that nursing home shit. Regardless of anything. She has us.
But yea. Like GWB’s legacy goes…there is NEVER a child left behind.
And with that…there is never “no child left behind”, no family behind, no soul left behind, that’s the legacy of my family.
And for that, I am extremely, immensely grateful for.
And for that, I thank God for that grace of a big black country rural bama family.
(look at that picture to the left, I look like them, color, build, form… and that was taken almost 100 years ago).
I wouldn’t be here,
I wouldn’t be me without them.