Sitting in my Uncle Jr’s kitchen, we have spent hours at the kitchen table observing old pictures from decades ago and looking over family records from hundreds of years ago. In this large binder, resides dozens of old pictures of my family, spanning from the late 1800s to present day.
After flipping to the next page, he points to a picture of a man in a plastic cover in a white binder. The gentleman in this picture is dawning a suit jacket and tie and there is a level of seriousness and determination in his eyes. My Uncle informed me that this man passed away decades before I was born. While pressing his index finger on the picture of the well-groomed gentleman, he says “this is your Great-Great Grandfather.”
My pride skyrocketed as it was another affirmation that I was a part of a collective. Though I never met my Great-Great Grandfather, I respect him as he and my other family members laid the foundation for all future generations, including me. This picture among the many old photos struck me the most because of his eyes. When I looked into my Great-Great Grandfather’s eyes, I could hear him saying to me “Don’t you quit on me. You must carry us forward.” It was like he was talking to me through his eyes and it felt as if he was right there in the kitchen beside me.
I keep his picture and other pictures of my family on my phone and look at them often as a reminder that I represent a unit greater than myself. God has placed me in this Earthly tribe of scholars, educators, businessmen and women, warriors, service members, parents, mentors, inventors, builders, lawyers, property owners, politicians and more. As one of the newest members of my family, I must represent myself and my family, past, and present, with respect, duty, honor, loyalty, and integrity.
Many events in life had to line up correctly for me to be here at this moment. Many sacrifices, tears, risks, blood, prayers, and love were given for me to be here and as I traverse through my journey of life, I have the power of my ancestors pushing me forward. I feel a duty to my family to BUILD so future generations after me know I carried us forward.
Photo Credit: WPC: “WEATHERED.” The New 3Rs: Retire, Recharge, Reconnect. https://3rsofretirement.com/2018/01/11/wpc-weathered/. Jan 2018.