familial forgiveness

these are pictures of my biological mother who I was told was my aunt over 50 years of my life. I found these pictures going through some things that I salvaged from her home that her husband’s children ransacked.young doll

that is when the chest pains started.

I realize now that I am heart broken. that I weep for me and for her. I weep for my lovely mother who raised me. I weep for them just as much as I rage at them for keeping vital information from me.

I realize that I have to un break my heart… all by myself. because they are dead. And because they – each – in her own way – gave me all the tools I need to un break my own heart.
to free myself from the chains of shame and propriety and fear that kept them at dis-ease and killed them.

I look at these pictures and see myself and my daughteryoung doll2
I see a woman who loved me and her sister who raised me without hesitation

and I forgive all of us for not being perfect

Thoughts on History during Black History month

I really love history.

I think that I love it so much because I was introduced to history by two people who loved it and I loved them both dearly.

My father and my maternal grandmother.

My father was a never without a book kind of brother.  He introduced me to jazz and Frederick Douglass.

Philip and corrine  My Grandmother,  was born before the turn of the century and had been raised in an extended family that included formerly enslaved people (her maternal grandparents). She had graduated college and worked as a school teacher prior to marriage.

My mother combed my hair every day for school and church, but my grandmother put my hair up at night. I had a little stool that she sat between her knees and I would lean back into the hammock made by her skirt and apron.

She would comb my hair and tell me all about my family. Stories of life, of my family, of my life. How my mother had been a tom boy.

How smart she was.

How my grandfather came here from Jamaica.

How they met.

We would laugh and she made it all come alive for me. So vivid that I felt I had been there, witnessed it myself.

And she would ask me about school. What was I reading.

And she told me “There is no shame in being Negro.”

She told me about the great kingdoms of Africa. Timbuktu, Benin and Jenne. About Sundiata and Kingdom of Mali.

She told me about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement and a long list of things.  The Pharaohs of Egypt.

She had me read to her. Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar

She made history feel like Good Gossip over cocktails, looking back.

At the time it felt like hot chocolate and a good movie. .

I remembered years later, when some little white boy in college tried to bait me. The only black in the class.  Spouted some racist diatribe about the primitive Africans who benefited from slavery.

I felt her pull my hair, gently into place.

“There were great kingdoms in Africa when people in Europe lived in caves and didn’t bathe.”

In that moment, history, like her love was both shield and sword.

History, Like family is supposed to give you roots to grow and Wings to soar.

“Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. You have to expose who you are so that you can determine what you need to become.”

― Cynthia A. Patterson

To Repair With Gold

I recently learned that I am adopted.

Dee, Beckey, Alice and Doll (1961)
Dee, Beckye, Alice and Doll (1961)

secrets, shame, betrayal and lies
that’s the stuff of family ties
the more denial the tighter the tie
the bigger, the deeper the betrayal and lie”

I have begun a search in my life, for clarity, answers, truth and forgiveness. The elimination of shame and lies.
My whole concept of my family of origin had been a lie and it was someones bright idea to wait until I was over 50 years old and all the people involved, first hand participants are dead.

Mommy and Me (1985)
Mommy and Me (1985)
This is my mother, the woman who raised me.

I grew up and spent my entire life believing that I was she and my father’s only child and made all my decisions influenced by that knowledge.
I felt adored and protected by my parents and named two of my children in their honor.

Daddy, Me & Mommy
Daddy, Me & Mommy

Doll and Me (2004)
Doll and Me (2004)
This is my mother, the woman who gave birth to me.

I grew up, feeling loved and mentored by her. She was an ever present source of encouragement and direction.

The women in question are sisters. close, loving sisters and only death separated them in my life.

Doll and Beckye (1984)
Doll and Beckye (1984)
Alice (Nana) Selma (Doll) Katherine (Beckye)
Alice (Nana) Selma (Doll) Katherine (Beckye)
One was pregnant and unmarried, the other was married and unable to get pregnant. And I was the ultimate gift, that they gve to each other. My grandmother, the mastermind behind it all.

And now on the day after my birthday, I begin the search for understanding and acceptance.

My creation story was a lie and those who can shed the light of truth on it are either unknown or dead or both.

I get that it was the 60’s and I know that at some point between 18 and 30 years of age there was an affirmative duty to tell me everything, if not before then.

Feeling, broken and betrayed I sought first to confirm the story.

The first revelation is that there are no secrets. Everybody knew but me. Everyone I have asked was aware and all are paused to learn that I didn’t. Of the nearly 15 people that I have asked, only 1 had no knowledge.

The second revelation is that people mean well and don’t want to speak ill of the dead and or family.

The third revelation is that this lie has colored every aspect of my life.

What I would like people to understand is that it is not just YOUR SECRET. and that it is not SACRED. and I wont take on your SHAME!

So while I truly feel broken by this experience and it changes the way i feel about my life and everyone in it…
I repair with Gold.
With Platinum, Dammit!
I will never be the same. I am even better!! ♥