Honoring Our Past Through Our Elders

A village without the elderly is like a well without water. – African Proverb 

During the recent loss of Congressman John Lewis, I had time to reflect on the impact that he made, not only in the Black community but for our nation as a whole. He broke barriers and raised the standard of what it means to be a great global citizen. He will always be remembered for his contributions. 

As I was sitting there watching the many tributes to Congressman Lewis, I thought about my grandparents and how they were around the same age as he was. Then I began to remember all those stories I’ve heard since I was a little sitting on granny’s front porch in North Carolina. I can still recall her telling me about how she and her siblings will pick cotton or work on local tobacco farms to provide for their families. Sometimes the stories were sad or funny, but for the most part, there was always a lesson learned. 

Over the years, grandparents have been pushed aside or overlooked within the family structure. As we deal with this ongoing pandemic, racism, and virtual learning taking its toll on families, we need stability in our lives. That stability comes from seeking wisdom through our elders and learning from the past. It wasn’t always easy for them, but they somehow managed to overcome many challenges. I find it puzzling how we quickly forget how fragile and vital the relationship is to our elders. 

I’m guilty of forgetting to return a call or stop by sometimes because work gets crazy. But we have to take the initiative and honor our elders by listening to them and communicating with them as often as time allows. As a person who loves touring museums and watching historical documentaries, I have to remind myself how blessed and privileged I am to have my grandparents on call when I want to hear their voice. Use this opportunity during the pandemic to call those who have cleared the path for you, give them their flowers while they can smile and enjoy them. 

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