Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Legacy

A few weeks ago my grandmother died. She is the grandmother I grew up with, who babysat me, picked me up from school, fed me, encouraged me and was there for me my entire life. She was an amazing woman. At her funeral I was asked to read a poem, and after hours and hours of searching for something perfect, I decided to write one. Writing this poem has caused me to reflect so much on her life and what she meant to me. When I think of who I am now, what I have been able to accomplish, I know that many pieces of me are pieces of her. My grandmother was a sharecropper. A sharecropper! To think that this small quiet woman once worked under the hot Tennessee sun picking cotton with her beautiful delicate hands. To think of the doors that were closed to her, a brilliant mathematician despite only reaching the eighth grade. She raised six professional children - two doctors (one the first black medical student at his school), an aerospace engineer, a math teacher, an economist, a homemaker. She seriously came from nothing and her legacy is enormous. She helped instill in me the importance of education. This generation is leaving us - the generation of sharecroppers whose grandparents actually remember slavery. So much history! In reflecting on my grandmother, I reflect on my history and the fruit of her sacrifices. I am part of her crop. I have grown up in a world where opportunities are open to me. We do not live in a country of true equality and tolerance, but it is a country where a black woman can be a surgeon, when only 60 years ago blacks and whites in the South lived utterly separate lives. I look at my daughter and I know that I must bottle up and save each bit of this legacy so that I can pass it on to her.

This past October my husband and I took 5 days and took our daughter on a “legacy tour.” She met all 3 of her great grandmothers. Two have since passed away. I am so thankful for the pictures and memories we created. So thankful that we drove over 1000 miles to make it happen. So thankful for family and legacy and my beautiful child.

9 comments:

  1. This is a really beautiful post. It reminds me that my husband and I really do need to make the time to do our own legacy tour with our daughter to visit her 91 year old great-grandma in Italy while she's still with us.

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  2. I love the imagery of you as "part of her crop". We truly do reap what we sow. I am glad your daughter got to meet such a powerful woman.

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  3. What an inspirational woman (both you and her!). This is exactly why I'm going to India before starting medical school in the fall-to see my own grandmother and grandfather

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  4. What a great post... made me think of my grandmothers and what they did for me. Thank you!

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  5. Love it! Grandparents matter!
    I was raised by grandparents and consider myself being lucky every day of my life. Here is to extended families!

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  6. What a great post, and so much to be proud of. What a wonderful woman.

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  7. Awesome, thank you for sharing a snapshot of your grandmother with us. I am from Australia and met one of our first Aboriginal doctors, her grandfather tried to stop the school bus one day and it just drove on, so the next day he stood in the middle of the road and explained to the driver that his children would go to school. Every day he made sure they went to school. He died long before his granddaughter Sandra ever became a doctor but he believed in education. Her message that sometimes you don't see the tree grow but you just have to believe when you plant and nurture the seed has really inspired me in my family and my job. It's amazing how others stories can have such an effect, thank you again.

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  8. Thanks everyone for your beautiful and encouraging comments!

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