Well Raised & Well Read


“Love your parents. While we are busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old.” -Unknown

I am 23 years old.

I think about who I want to be when I grow up more now than I did when I was a child. I think about what its like to be old.

When I’m old, will I care about the last TV shows? No.

Will I remember the stressful thing that happened with the copy machine at work when I was 31? No.

Instead, I will be too busy counting my blessings- maybe I will be chatting with my partner about how we managed to stay alive together for 30 years; or maybe I will be laughing at my toddler grand kids mispronounce their own names; maybe I will be writing my life story in retirement to hand to my family; or maybe I will be choosing which memories deserve to decorate my walls.

After awhile of imagining, of trying to be creative about what I will do when I’m older. I realize that even my most creative ideas are not original. In fact, I have seen them lived in the lives that have surrounded mine since I was born. Most of who I want to become originated as a childhood memory of my grandma, or my dad, or my aunts.

I know that one day, in the days before I am old, I may see my loved ones leave earth. and I will wonder, did I cherish them? Have I allowed them to live within me? Where in my life do I dedicate space to the ways, traditions, pains, and laugh of the people who taught me everything that has carried me through time?

I think I started growing up when I decided that I would honor my family while they could watch me from their window and not from the clouds. We deserve our flowers while we are in the flesh just as much as we deserve them when we are not. Those flowers that they deserve, they are in my blood and my hair and my laugh and my tears.

And, If I love my family, I should take care of myself enough that I can take care of them. One day, I will be their caregiver and they will depend on me for support. I know that I must be prepared for this day as it may be my greatest chance at reciprocity; The truth is I can not play them back, but I can show respect and gratitude and try my best to love well.

I imagine my future in my family.

I consider what I will do because of them, because of me.  The more I reach towards my own future, the more I try to be intentional about who I will become, the more I consider where I come from. How else should I create meaning for the future than by looking at the past?  Word: Sankofa


Translation: “To go back and get it”

Meaning: In order to move to the future, we must consider our past

Reaching farer, imagining without bounds, and rebuilding the depth of who I am, beyond my days, and my family, farther and deeper in the past and the lineage and the stories. Ancestors.

 “I am the hope and dream of the slave” -Maya Angelou

Yes, I am from the people who survived the slave ships filled with racks of people ill, pregnant, self-decating, cold.

Yes, I am from the people whose spirit invented music and evolved sound from drums and hums to jazz, hip hop, rock and roll, and soul.

Yes, I am from the people who created phonics, architecture, agriculture, and more predating the english language.

Yes, they too are in my blood and hair and laughs and tears. Indeed my person is a miracle and my existence a story of endurance and joy from those who paid the price of hope.

I have read this story of endurance and joy from the words of Morrison, Angelou, Hughes, and many more. “I wouldn’t take anything for my journey now” -Maya Angelou

Thank God, I can read; the greatest ways I have come to know myself are with my family and with a book.


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