“A child is born and cries … An elder gently whispers goodbye. This is the circle of life.”
If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s the family.
On any given summer day, you can probably hear the O’Jays singing their timeless rendition of “Family Reunion.” It has become the official theme song for families around the world.
Today is all about your favorite aunt’s potato salad, smoked baked beans, ice- cold watermelon, banana pudding, barbecue, avoided dishes, board games, children laughing, dysfunctional family members, the young, the old, the unborn, and the stories about how we became.
If I asked you the question, what does your family mean to you? I would hope your reply would be everything!
The family unit is more powerful than any atomic weapon. Its power continues to prove its resilience in the face of oppression. The family unit multiplies and gives strength to each emerging generations. It is the living; breathing record of torch-bearers, we call our ancestors. Families author legacies which outlive our mortal frames.
I am an old soul and have been a fan of elders all of my life. During my youth, I began to collect and save family obituaries. These printed programs serve as legal documents and it a great resource plus a cross- reference to your family lineage.
When an elder dies in your family, it is the equivalent to the burning down of a library. Their stories, voices, roadmaps, and wisdom go into the grave with them.
“History is always written by the winners “
When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe.
As Napoleon once said, “What is History but a fable agreed upon? – Dan Brown
As people of color, we cannot afford to be detoured or discouraged about our oral history. The meaning of History is exactly this; His=Story. This has very little to do with Our Story.
Keep in mind, the preservation of oral history is critical because it is the very first phase of your genealogical research. Oral History is frequently attacked by critics and discounted as unreliable. Even with the emergence of DNA testing, many will refute our identities and our roles as being unfounded.
“If you don’t believe in ghosts, you’ve never been to a family reunion.” – Ashleigh Brilliant
The beauty of DNA is that it connects us to living and the lost family members. Get started, get your testing done, and build your family trees. This information will prove invaluable for future generations. Be prepared; it can and will reveal family scandals, skeletons, and secrets. (Oh well, so much for taking stuff to the grave). Now DNA has given the grave a platform to speak.
As long as we continue to pass our oral history down to the next generation; the torch will continue to burn, and we win!
While you have time, attend your family reunions. Write down those favorite recipes, sit at the feet of your elders, cherish the wisdom, and cherish the moments. There will come a time when you wish you had the time to do it all over again.