It’s been years since I’ve spent Easter with my grandmother, probably since high school. As a matter of fact, I know it was high school so needless to say it was long overdue. I couldn’t wait to see my grandmother, grandfather, little brother, dad, and some cousins that I hadn’t seen since an uncle’s funeral about fifteen years ago. All of that added together meant that I was going to have a packed four days but I was ready for it. This trip had more in store for me then I would have ever thought. What this trip did was show me a rich legacy of my family that was deep and extended farther back then I could have ever imagined.
I got to see a side of my family that was amazing and so profound that I could do nothing but have my chest swell with pride and also feel a need to carry on a great family name and bloodline. In the same token I also had to see the worst of some of my family as well, as I had to come to grips with a lifestyle that some of my family is living that is much more dangerous and sad than I could have ever thought, but I want to tell you that I still love them though and I’ll do what I can in my power to help steer them the right direction. I think the best part of my trip was seeing my cousins who live in a small town near the Cumberland River in Southern Kentucky. As soon as we got there I knew something felt different, but good.
Later I learned that this town that my cousins lived in happened to be a town that my dad lived in for several years as a little kid. In this town was a small white church that my father’s father was a reverend at and even had his name on the church. Sadly my grandfather died several years after they moved from that town at the age of 33 from a diabetic coma, but it was almost as if I felt him a little and learned so much about him while being there. Within ten minutes I saw my fathers eyes light up as people started coming out of their homes and onto their porches to greet him. These people were childhood friends of his from six, seven, and eight years old that he had never forgotten.
Cars instantly started to drive up the road and pull over as more people poured out to greet him and tell stories about my dad’s feats as a child and how great a man my grandfather was. I met older women who used to baby sit my father, cut his hair, and even drag him down the street back home as I was told that my dad was quite the trouble maker when he was little, in one ladies words “Lord your daddy was baaaaad! But we loved him.” He even had a nick name that I’ll spare him from mentioning in this post but had me laughing in disbelief. But with that, one prevailing theme that kept arising amongst everyone that kept telling stories about my family and even now with my cousins that still live in that town is how they were and are such hard workers and how they were genuine kind hearted people.
At that moment as I saw the looks on the faces of all those people as well as on my father, I realized how important sentimental things like that are. My father kept repeating that it takes a village and how everyone we spoke too had a hand in raising him and to be honest, with all the trouble I heard he got into as a little guy, if he didn't have such a great community around him, who knows what he could have turned out to be. I really got to see what a strong community looks like and means. I got to see what happens as a result of everyone looking after each other and caring about one another. And because of that, I couldn’t be more proud of my family and the part they played in it.
I spent hours hanging out with my grandfather (my mother’s father) talking sports and catching up on the news concerning family members who still haven't found their way. I have a twenty year old cousin with two kids whose packing around a thirty round clip because people are after him and he feels the need to be ready to take a life before someone takes his. A kid with all the talent and ability in the world and a great heart but can’t seem to get out of his own way. It’s hard to believe because I still see the kid in diapers I used to chase around my aunts house when I look at him. In the same token I have another cousin, twenty-one years of age, with two kids and a wife who owns his own house and works his tail off helping buildwater towers for a living. Sometimes he was to be gone away from his family traveling and working for two or three weeks at a time which he hates.
And I just want to grab my other cousin who isn't doing the right things and let him meet the other who is and tell him, “This is what doing the right thing looks like. This is what taking care of responsibility look’s like.” I know my cousin hates his job but you know what, he loves his wife and kids more. To me, that’s something to admire and even though he's younger than me, I look up to him for that and I'm proud of him. So Q, if you ever get the chance to read this, dude you are amazing and I’m proud of you bro.
With family you get the best and sometimes the worst but that’s with everyone’s family. Anyone who tells you that their family is perfect is a lie. I’ll tell you this, one thing you should always do is love them with all your heart and take pride of the positive legacy that they leave you with. Even if you feel your family has left you with nothing, one thing they did leave you with is a name. So take that name and make it better, don't mess it up. Always show people the best of your roots and not the worst.