Familial Ties

Posted by Precious Jewel on

 

This weekend my grandmother requested that I attend a family meeting in her place with my great aunt and favorite big cousin amongst family members I am not too familiar with. The primary objective was to plan our upcoming family reunion. Our family has been facing multiple challenges and plenty of loss lately so we figured it would be nice for us to meet more frequently. 

My grandmother asked me knowing I'd be likely be the only one interested. Despite being notified an hour before, I agreed. I was the youngest and only 20-something year old in the room of course---something I have become accustomed to lately. Women ages 50 to 80 filled the room.
Seated on the porch, I listened to stories of matriarchs that I have never gotten the privilege of meeting. I then walked in cousin Robin's (Wendy as they call her) home for the first time and admired the photos on the wall as she placed the spread of nosh on the dining room table. After greeting everyone and hearing exchanges similar to how much I resemble my great grandmother, how beautiful I am, and how I need a little more hips, I made my great aunt a dinner plate.
I had already eaten prior to attending the family meeting, so I filled my plate with fruit. "Look at her eating healthy" (jokingly of course), so I added more food to my plate not to be offensive to the host. Ever seen the scene of "Commitments" (TV Movie 2001) where the foster mother mocks her longtime foster daughter, a now young lady, for eating healthy and wanting a little less carbs? "You're so pretty and all grown up. A little bit skinny but that's ok. You're down here with me now (the south) so I'll take care of that." There is no being skinny in a black family, especially amongst older women *jokes*.
After eating, I cleaned myself up and began applying more lipgloss and fragrance oil. One cousin said "do you know what I do with oil like that?" "Yes?" I said. "I mix it in my lotion. Always keeps me smelling good." I wrote her advice down in the womanhood journal that I carry with me everywhere. 
My goal (as always) was to listen, take notes, and not be heard, but after listening to family stories, the need to break generational curses, and a lesson on our family tree, the women then shared wisdom with me specifically. The ladies shared everything from career and entrepreneurship advice to advice on marriage and children. I listened and jotted down a few notes. Upon leaving, my great aunt said "you were right where you were supposed to be today Precious."
Our latest book club read was "Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times." During our discussion I posed the question "what family traditions do you hope to begin and continue?" Documenting familial stories and traditions of returning to hosting family gatherings was mine.
Documenting those small moments with the women in your family are so important to me. Not only do I record conversations, but I collect quotes from family members and write them in a scrapbook I requested my grandmother make me last Christmas. My favorite big cousin (50s) teaches me so much and I love to write it all down. From her giving me dating advice about knowing my worth to beauty secrets she has shared with me. I also keep track of the cute little womanhood films I've watched with the women in my family. Like the time my big cousin had me over, did my hair, taught me how to sew (I am NOT great at it), and had me watch "Lady Sings The Blues" and "Mahogany" for the first time. Document it all.
For the ladies who may take time doing your grandmother's makeup or teaching your mother the latest skincare routine, I challenge you to take it further. Gather lessons, family stories, and write it all down.
We only get so much time. 

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