It would be difficult for me to categorize three things that I owned that summed up my life or represented a heritage that I’m proud to be a part of. If I were placed in a situation where I had no choice and knew I wasn’t returning to the land of my birthplace, one of the items I would bring would be the journal I started writing for my son before he was born. Diligently for the first year I wrote about the journey his dad and I were embarking upon, his arrival. Each year since his birth I update it with memories of accomplishments, family history but mostly to give him a sense of worth, determination and reference of what we endured that year. My journal to him captures more than what pictures show of how he grew from a thought, to a baby and continuing to grow into adulthood. It helps tell our story and reaffirm to him what’s important in life. What I was taught, I instill those same lessons to my son every day of his life. My family taught me that having faith, maintaining your self-respect and knowing your self-worth will get you through any circumstance placed before your feet.
The second item would be my iPod. Music played an important role in our family. Music, like writing is my heartbeat and therapeutic. I remember as a child visiting my paternal grandparents and hearing jazz and big band on Saturday mornings while we cleaned. My maternal grandparents and their Saturday drives and gathering to play dominoes listening to Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Ray Charles. My uncle returning from the Vietnam War and sounds of War, Earth Wind and Fire and the Isley Brothers blaring through the speakers of his Thunderbird. My Dad rocking his head to the sounds of the Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Chicago, ELO, Santana and southern rock. My mom and Sunday mornings filled with worship and praise, singing along to the Hawkins Family, Clark Sisters, Andre Crouch. Summers spent with my aunt listening to the Carpenters and Chuck Mangione. All those different sounds invoke wonderful memories, eases difficult times as I played music to walk through stormy paths and new adventures. For this is the music of my family. We related to the lyrics because it was our lives, their struggles, the future and our dreams to be better, stronger as each new generation came forth on the shoulders of the last.
The third item would my pearl necklace. It was given to me on my 21st birthday by my step-great grandmother Scott. Her husband had given it to her when he returned from World War I. I wore these pearls the day I married my husband. It symbolized the merging of my family with his, another generation of proud humble people. When I look at the necklace, I see generations of women from my mother and aunts, to their mothers and aunts. I think of the struggles they went through to become women, sisters and mothers. From seamstress and housekeepers, to librarians, educators and professional women. We are strong willed and resilient.
If I had to narrow my choices again to carrying just one with me then it would be my iPod. My hope would be that through music and my voice, I could tell my story, show how diverse I am. They could feel my compassion in the words and music that sway me. They can feel my strengths and see our common threads. That would be my wish.