Browsing Tag

family bonding

Herstories, Legacy

So you want to be a matriarch

May 20, 2021

Matriarch as a job description is quite daunting. It basically means that you are the oldest female in your family line and the legacy buck starts with you. Many of us are used to being in charge in our household. We often have a loving spouse and children to love and watch out for . There is a wonderful time of life when we fall under another’s matriarchal umbrella If we are fortunate enough to have a wonderful mother then we are fully aware of the shoes we need to fill when the umbrella closes and we are now in charge of their will be rain or sunshine.

My mother (Agnes Jean Knight) was a spectacular matriarch. Agnes ruled her family with no apologies. We were her brood and she carried us along with her on her journey through immigration, education, and personal growth. Agnes educated herself from humble beginnings (rural Jamaica) to post baccalaureate work in New York City. Agnes took a chance and left her birth country for the cold of England in 1959. England in the 50’s was cold in both temperature and racial tolerance. However, Agnes expected much from life and sought success relentlessly. She believed that no goal was out of reach as long as you were willing to work hard for it. I personally believe that it was this level of work that compromised her health and led to her prolonged illness at the end of her life. Finding balance is a trait that plagues all us matriarchs in training.

As a matriarch in training, I have learned many things. I am also open to the fact that I might also be missing some “big picture” aspects of life. Some of the things I know for sure are:

  • Intention counts and informs all of your decisions.
  • Apologizing is a valuable life tool.
  • Time spent with loved ones should be coveted most of all.
  • Education allows you to unlock doors previously closed to you.
  • Graduations can be more important than weddings.
  • You can only be bored if you’re boring.
  • Sleep as much as you can.
  • Tell and document your family’s story so that every member is validated and remembered.

What I’m not to sure about is how to optimize my earth time. Let’s face it there is only so much time and how do you figure out what should be the legacy you leave. Make no mistake, what you create in your family lives on in your descendants. I live a life of privilege due to the hard work of my ancestors. I was challenged recently about what privilege means. My friend was upset because I challenged his definition of privilege. He believes that he got no breaks and everything he has earned was due to his hard work. I challenged his belief because I believe that our ancestors contribute in minor and major ways to our present situations. I believe that those same ancestors make us who we are today. In the case of people descended from slavery between 30 and forty generations contributions were directed to the success of other families. Slavery left a gaping hole in the evolution of so many families. My family have been land owners for over a hundred years and I have traced my DNA back to the African woman that survived that heinous trip across the Atlantic in the belly of a ship. I believe that all my ancestors played some part in the circumstances of my life. Therefore, what I leave to my offspring has a gravitas to it. Legacy is not a casual endeavor.

As a matriarch I hope to embody the values that were passed down to me. Hard work, honesty, diligence, empathy, and stealth have allowed me and mine to survive in an inhospitable environment. We have not only survived. We have flourished. We also lost some of our own along the way. The most powerful trait that I will hold onto and strive to pass on is the ability to love. Meeting each family member as they are rather than what I envision them to be is my life’s work. I wholeheartedly step into my role as matriarch of my family. Besides, I always wanted to wear those big church hats!


Love in the time of covid19

September 11, 2020

The other day, I was listening to a news program and the commentator read off the statistics claiming that 52% of young adults lived with their parents. What I found alarming was not the number of young adults returning home; it was the implied censure in the article that presented having to return home as something bad. There are many reasons to return to the nest in adulthood and not all of them are a failure to launch.

I am a child of immigrants and I remain one to this day having recently immigrated to Jamaica. My parents are native Jamaicans who met and married in England; that was where I was born. We moved to Canada for better opportunities eventually settling in America. At every step of the way there was an extended stay with family who were already based in country. So many people lived with us (in various locations) over the years that I never realized that I supposedly had my own room. I was always sharing.

Returning to a family home base is not a bad thing. There are many life interruptions that can lead you home. Divorce, illness, the starting up of your first IPO may require assistance from those who love you the most, Of course, the privilege of family ties like many things can be abused. Almost every family has a deadbeat or manipulative person in their midst; even those individuals have a role to play in family life. Even if they are held up as a example of what not to do.

There are those who return home, those who leave later than society deems proper, and those who never leave home. Mental and physical illness do not just affect the old. Many children and young people can have their launch into society waylaid or cancelled altogether by a tragic accident or affliction. I know of two individuals who have had their launch delayed by circumstances and are having an extended childhood because that is what was needed for them to thrive. Their families have supported them on their path to whatever independence their circumstances dictate.

I choose to see the gifts of God’s blessing in every difficult situation. In times of world crisis or war, we are afforded an opportunity to draw closer experiencing a greater connection with our family members. Returning to home also allows for the healing of old wounds. Let’s face it. If you can live with your parents or siblings again; you can work out whatever petty grievances you may still carry from childhood.

I grew up with my grandmother, grand aunt, uncle, aunt, various cousins, and an ornery step-brother, I know their presence in my childhood made me who I am today. Currently, I am living my second childhood with my father in a house in Jamaica. Jamaica is where the root of my family began after slavery. You could say that this is a full circle moment in time for me. Living with my parents again has ushered in a full pallet of emotions. I have been sad, mad, irritated, filled with love, and I can honestly say I have laughed so hard that milk shot out my nose. Where else can you get all of that , but at home!

In this time of COVID19 when families are being tested in both loving and tragic ways; it helps to have additional resources and a place to return to when everything goes wrong. We all need a place to shelter from harm and revamp our dreams. This is not the first time we have had to pull together to survive and it won’t be the last. There is always another event around the corner albeit, a world pandemic is (hope to God), a singular event. Moving in with those you have a bond with might be the ultimate collateral beauty of a terrible time.