My Mothers Day Tribute to my Mother

My Mother does not have the internet, is not on Facebook, does not have an iphone or iPad to see this tribute, but be assured that she will get it (the old fashioned way) by mail.

As I lay in bed this morning thinking about the celebration of Mothers Day and how I wish I had something to give my mother, I became sad when I realized all the things she has given me over the years and still is.

We are all somewhat familiar with how this National Mothers Day of celebration came about, but way before then, the scriptures had already given us the mandate to honor our mothers (and our fathers).  That word “honor” was intriguing, so I looked it up.  One meaning is – great respect, high regard, show honor, treat with great respect.  And of course, one would need to know the meaning of regard and respect which in essence means high regard, honor, esteem, or it implies recognition and esteem of worth, with or without liking.

I am sure at some time or the other we all did not “like” our mothers and they didn’t care.  But we were taught to give them honor and respect. We did not talk when they were talking, we did not talk back, and when they gave us that look, we knew to get somewhere.  As the years have gone by, these are some of the things that I have come to realize:

  • I will only get one mother in my lifetime.
  • She was the vessel God chose to bring me into human being form.
  • As a mother myself, I realize the travail that she suffered in labor giving birth and before birth, her body was in pain to carry me in her womb for nine months.
  • She made sacrifices and did without for my well-being.
  • She endured pain and suffering and ridicule at the hands of others to make a better world for me.
  • She was my first teacher.  Even though she didn’t get much schooling, she is still a well of wisdon and I still learn from her and listen to her instruction.
  • When I was sick or hurt, she was the one who stayed up late at night to care for me.
  • When she couldn’t buy clothes for me, she made them with her own hands.
  • Her chastening me was for my own good and I am better for it.

I cannot count every deed she has done to make my life better because it would become a book. If there is any one that I owe my life to, it is my mother. I could never give her back the things she has so richly sacrificed, but whatever I can do to make her happy (even if I don’t want to do it) I will. I count it an honor and a privilege that God has given me every day to call and see how she is doing.  I don’t wait on her to call me, even though she does from time to time. And even that’s an honor for me.

The Intruders put it in a song in June of 1973 and I will not give you all of the lyrics but I will end with my favorite part.

I’ll always love my momma, she’s my favorite girl

I’ll always love my momma, she brough me in this world

She taught me little things, like “say hello and thank you, please”

While scrubbing those floors on her bended knees.

 

 

The Help – Giving Our Ancestors Voice

Even though The Help did not win the Oscar’s coveted Best Picture Award, the movie is a testatment for African American Women who lived and worked as Maids. Not because they were not capable of doing anything else, but this was the only thing they were deemed worthy of doing.

African Americans, after Emancipation, were looking at the potential not only to enjoy and receive freedom but to live it. They had a desire to integrate into American life. How hopeful they must have been about the bright futures for their families.

At the beginning of Radical Reconstruction, there was a tremendous Federal will to both bring the South into submission and also to protect African American Civil Rights. In 1866, the 14th Amendment recognized that “All citizens born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States.” Reconstruction was an attempt to create a country in which it would be possible to have a bi-racial and equal citizenship. In most places, it succeeded. After Reconstructions, new laws in the South criminalized Black Americans. Racial segreatation was mandated by law to remind black people, day after day, minute by minute, that they have a place in society and that place is to be subservient. Degrading as it was, segreation was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson.

As the 19th century came to a close and for many decades to come, the possibility of freedom was overshadowed by the constant threat of forced labor and violence. This is what my great-grandmother and grandmother were born into, both becoming “The Help.” This movie is representative of the thousands of fameless, faceless maids whose stories were never told or recorded and who were deemed to be of no value. This is the story of mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts.

Just like “The Help” told a story, we all have a story to tell.

The importance of Family Traditions and How to Create Them

Family traditions are, unfortunately, one of the great casualties of the new millennium. In today’s modern world, keeping and maintaining family traditions is a big challenge. Advancement of science and technology compounded by the present economic crisis keeps everyone alive, busy, tired and stressed in many different ways. Family traditions, values and practices should be enjoyed, preserved and promoted to help strengthen family solidarity.

As families become more fragmented and disconnected, there is less time and opportunity to enjoy the simple traditions that were once a natural part of family life. Modern households often have a TV and/or computer along with iPads and iPods in every room, so even a small ritual like sitting down to eat Sunday dinner at Grandma’s is not happening anymore. Children and parents are involved in so many activities that there is not enough time to stop and smell the roses.

Twenty first century family life looks a lot different than it did fifty, or even twenty years ago. Parents’ hectic work schedules may mean that eating as a family, taking a family walk, or going on a day trip are sometimes impossible. Family vacations require strategic style planning to get everyone together and Christmas, once a holiday awash with loving, meaningful, family traditions, all too often involves a painful and complicated process of trying to balance which of two estranged parents gets the biggest slice of their kids’ time and attention over the holiday season.

Many of us remember and miss the little rituals that formed the basis of our own childhood, yet don’t see a way to fit them into a life that is so different from that of our parents when we were growing up. Christmas should be a time for family traditions, but it’s not necessary to restrict traditions to the holiday season. Sometimes holiday festivities are a good way to kick start traditions that can become seasonal favorites or that can be incorporated into family life year round. My sister has coordinated a Christmas Eve celebration in the form of a holiday cook-off. She names the ingredient and each person who plans to participate makes a dish to bring. The winner gets a prize and we all get to eat. How simple is that?

Family traditions can be a way to reconnect and create a much needed sense of belonging, and for those no longer part of a “traditional” family set-up, setting traditions can be even more important. Traditions don’t have to be time-consuming either, although it’s worth taking a moment right now to think about the fact that spending time together is what family traditions are all about. If setting aside at least a little time to create some meaningful traditions is not in your schedule, you probably really need to re-assess your priorities. Family only comes around once.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to today’s increasingly complicated family situations. Don’t think that just because you’re a single mom, part-time dad, step parent, foster family, blended family, or any variation of the “traditional” nuclear family, that traditions are not for you. Fit your traditions to your family situation and the people in it. If you only see your kids once a week, that in itself can be a tradition. Certainly you don’t have to miss out on seasonal and holiday traditions, even if you don’t always celebrate them on the exact right day.

In order to find traditions that fit your family you have to include everyone, and make it meaningful for every family member. This can be a particular challenge with large or blended families. Experiment to find activities that appeal to everyone, and where everyone can play a part. For a few years, our family has made a point of taking a family trip to the mountains which included the matriarch of the family, my mother, sisters, cousin, etc. My mother really looks forward to this whenever we go. This was started by my youngest daughter.

Starting a new family is a great time to start new traditions. Start early with your child, whether it’s reading a nightly bedtime story, or hanging the Christmas stockings. Just because the youngest member(s) of the family are too young to understand, doesn’t mean the tradition isn’t valuable.

Resurrect old traditions. Think back to your childhood. I knew that I was going to the country for the summer to visit with my great-grandparents. I learned valuable lessons while I was there, working with my uncles in the garden, feeding the chickens and hogs. Well, children don’t do that kind of stuff anymore, but you understand what I am saying. I am so glad that I had that time with Big Ma and Pipe.

On Christmas morning, my mother would cook a big country ham with gravy, make delicious buttermilk biscuits, and fix us cheese and eggs. It became a tradition until we all moved away from home. In thinking back, there is a hotdog restaurant called “Nu-Way” and it was customary whenever we went to town, my mom would buy us a hotdog. Even now when I go home, or going through Macon, even my girls have joined the act, we most always stop for a Nu Way hotdog. One of the things that I like to do now for my girls, since they are all grown-up now, is to give them an ornament for their tree each Christmas. That way, maybe they will remember me during the holidays.

If you came from a family where tradition wasn’t important, borrow from other people’s traditions. Read up on different traditions that have been popular at different times throughout history, in your own country and around the world. Be inspired by the old, but don’t be afraid to put a new twist on it if that suits your family.

Yes family traditions are important. Whether we know it or not, we are leaving a legacy. It’s what’s done between the dash that counts.

Ancestors and Descendants, Still Celebrating My Heritage

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. A lot has happened. But being Black History month (as it is known), a lot of thoughts come to mind.

I don’t know what the future holds for my descendants, who they will become, what direction they will take, what life lessons they will learn and pass on to their children. In the words of Bishop L.M. Bell, in the early days of his ministry, at the little brown church on the corner, “children will pass on what they learn at home.” Ironically, Dorothy Law Nolte came out with a poem in 1998, “Children Learn What They Live.”

Living with my Grandmother, I had the advantage of growing up in the church, going to the country every summer, being taught to say “yes maam and no maam”, “yes sir and no sir”. Any other derivative would find your teeth knocked out. In those days, we were taught to “get somewhere” when grown folk were talking. You could not put your two cents into the conversation. In those days, children were taught to honor your parents(regardless of who they were, where they were, or what they had done), grandparents, and any of those who were in authority or in an eldership position.

In those days, “the village” raised you. My village was my grandmother, Uncle James, my paternal grandparents, the Pastor, the Sunday School Teacher, the neighbors – Ms.Johnnie, Ms.Fannie, Ms.Fannie Mae, Ms.Jean, Mr.Hubbard- the list goes on. These people could chastise me, tell my mother, and my mother or grandmother would give me a whipping, no questions asked. I am sure that my ancestors had the same upbringing and I appreciate what they passed on to me.

I am grateful that my ancestors handed down such a legacy. If they could see what’s going on now, they would probably ask, “what is happening to my descendants?” As older generations would say, “they are probably turning over in their graves.”

While society evolves, family values and standards should not change. Those things that were taught to us should be passed on from one generation to the next. The difference is, we inclined our ear to hear and our hearts were made teachable. I don’t know what will become of my successive generations as family dynamics change. The thought is really scary.

Heading Into Summer

With the holidays, family reunions, etc. The Legacy Maker has been pretty busy. But Father’s Day is coming up. I challenge you to do the same thing for Father’s Day that you did for Mother’s Day. Even though my father is deceased, there are some things that I learned from him that I will share in upcoming blogs. But for now, let’s enjoy our summer and all the activities that are coming up.

I did finish writing 8 Generations of Ladies, published it, and gave it to my mom for Mothers day. It was a blessing for me to bless her with a book about her ancestors. By the end of June, I plan to be finished with a history of my dad’s side of the family. We are having a renunion in Florida in July and I want to have it ready for the siblings then. My dad was one among 16 children. My brother is the only one in the family that will be carrying on the family name. I hope that he does a good job.

The Aspects of Woman

Throughout the world this week, people will be celebrating Mothers Day. This calling is something that all women should take seriously. Being a mother is an awesome task. Women are culture bearers. They transmit the history and traditions of their people down through the generations. They are the heart of the home and the matrix of the family. Over the span of their lives, whether they are queens, princesses or beggars, doctors or ditchdiggers, homemakers or heartbreakers, women continue to learn and grow.

Child, Maiden, Wife/Lover, Mother, or the Aged Woman – our own personal life spans. The Child greets the world with innocence, certainty, and the clear-eyed freshness of youth. The Maiden senses the changes in herself and the world around her. The Lover combines the knowledge of sensuality and selflessness. The Mother nurtures and empowers all humankind (that’s deep). The Aged Woman, from her pedestal of wisdom, offers learned lessons to those who know how to listen. This circle is ever continuing, with each one learning and teaching.

Wherever you are in the circle of the Aspects of Womanhood, share with those around you in other places on the circle. Help and teach the ways of women to the Maiden. Share the joy with the Wife/Lover. Nurture and empower those in your sphere as the Mother. Listen and learn from the Aged Woman.

Which age is best? The one you are enjoying right now. Be sure to get the best from it.

100 Things You Learned From Your Mother

The official day for Mother’s Day is approaching and of course mothers will be receiving their usual flowers, candy, special dinners, phone calls, texts, and emails.

You don’t have to wait until Mother’s Day to tell your mom or the women who have influenced your life how you feel about them. It’s a sad day if we can only remember our mothers once a year. Mothers appreciate more the little tokens of appreciation done throughout the year. Mothers do so much more than we can ever give them credit for. They gave us life.

So here’s my challenge to each of us. Write down, and this is the title, 100 Things I Learned From You Mom(Grandma, Sister, Aunt,etc.). This may seem hard to do, but get as far as you can. This can be presented to them framed and signed by you at the bottom.

If your mother is not living, this would still be a special legacy for your children and grandchildren.

Visit my Heritage Makers website and see how you can honor your mom all year long.

http://www.heritagemakers.com/yourlegacymaker

click on Template Gallery and key in “mother” in the search engine.

If you would like further information, please contact me at yourlegacymaker@gmail.com

Family Recipes and Family History

One of the basic things families do is prepare food and eat together – Sunday dinners, family reunions, holidays, birthdays – you name it, we will prepare a feast for it. These family gatherings serve as as an opportunity for family members to gather and discuss life with each other, especially if you have not been together since the previous year. These gatherings also demonstrate togetherness.

We all have memories of sitting around the family table. Whether these are happy memories or not so happy ones, it’s still family history. I have very fond memories of the big pot of collard greens my grandmother would cook with a big pan of cornbread. She and my grandfather had fourteen children, so you had to get in where you could fit in. Now that I think about it, it reminds me of the Waltons. What was left after all the greens were gone was the “potlicker.” If you were hungry later, just warm up the “potlicker” and heat up the cornbread(there were no microwaves in those days). Some restaurants now have this southern eatery on their appetizer menu.

Along with family history, it’s a tradition for families to pass on recipes. The idea of combining family history with recipes is nothing new. We do it each time we talk about “Grandma’s Fried Chicken” and how she made it or you tell of something you loved growing up as a child. I love telling people about my mom’s Sweet Potato Pie and her famous Chicken and Dressing. I can get it “almost” like hers. She has even shared the dressing recipe with my daughter – a piece of history.

Wouldn’t it be rewarding if my grandchildren, in years to come, remembers “Grandma’s Chicken and Dressing” recipe with the fondness that I remember it?

Now that’s family history.

Pictures Generates Words

Do you still have your photos under the bed in a box or in the attic in a trunk? Are you still looking at them in the family picture album? Think of what those pictures could be saying.

ONe of my favorite times is when I visit my mom and she lets me look at the family pictures she has collected over the years. OH THE STORIES THOSE PICTURES TELL! Since I can remember, my mom has always loved to take pictures. There are four of us girls and she would line us up from the oldest to the youngest and take our picture at every opportunity.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but it causes people to exchange several thousand more in reminiscing. That’s why looking at them is an ideal way to begin your family history. Writing about photos or other artifacts such as diplomas, old school certificates and promotion cards (the one where you would get Poor, Fair, Average, Good, Very Good – I have my last year in elementary school card), awards is a wonderful wayt to start a family history. Looking back at these items generates ideas.

Perhaps in our generation there is the possiblity of answers with a little research. But a generation further on, no one will have the slightest idea who those people are and what was going on at the time unless you put some words with your pictures.

A Community of Family

“As a potter molds clay to form a beautiful creation, so does a community of family.”

I have been working very diligently putting together a history of my father’s side of the family. It is such a blessing to hear the stories of those who lived among my grandmother Beatrice and great-grandmother Mandy. It is said that she (Mandy) wanted all of children to live in close proximity to her. All of them did except two sons that moved away after they married.

We all want to belong and feel accepted. A sense of belonging is derived from a strong family bond. Family is where our roots take hold and grow. In the family bond, values are taught at an early age by this village of people and carried with us throughout our life. Rituals of bedtime stories, holiday and family meals shared together provide a sense of warmth, structure and safety. These rituals and traditions not only create memories and leave a family legacy, but creates a positive path in life.

I experienced this community of family at an early age. Although I did not know my great-grandmother mother Mandy(she died six months after I was born) I’m sure that she knew of me. I was able to eat the homemade preserves and jellies my grandmother Beatrice made. I was able to eat the homemade buttermilk and corn bread. I was able to bathe in the “tin tubs” outside in the back yard. I saw my grandfather roast a whole pig and people from the neighborhood came to the feast. When one family suffered, the others were there to help out.

My mom always makes the comment when she comes to visit, “why do you all stay so far away from each other?” The value of the community of family has been lost. That community has become unrecognizable.

Don’t take the value of your community of family for granted. You can mold a beautiful creation today for the generations that follow.

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