May is about women even though March is Women’s Month.  We have Mother’s Day on May 8th. May 5th is Cinco de Mayo, when our Mexican heritage brothers and sisters celebrate their ancestors.  So, this month, I want to honor the mothers and grandmothers that have helped us get to this point in our journey.

My Lineage of Mothers

  • Leila Davis or Gigi (great grandmother) 
  • Katherine Bowen (maternal grandmother) – had the prettiest handwriting even though she only had a 3rd grade education.
  • Lorenza Webb (paternal grandmother) – died from complications with diabetes soon after my father was born  She played the piano and taught my grandfather how to read because when he was born, in 1886, Black children were not allowed to read. 
  • Great Grandmother Moss (name unknown) – my grandfather’s mother from the Moss plantation.  She had 12 biracial children by the plantation owner who built her a little house behind the “big house” so that she would be closer and more convenient.  Most of them dispersed as soon as they could and passed for white. They were the first generation of my family free from slavery. 
  • FarMor (paternal grandmother) –  a Norwegian who lived in the small town of Molde.  She was a teacher, as was her husband.  She made great holiday sweets and had a beautiful spirit.  
  • My dad had six sisters, most of them teachers, and they were a force to be reckoned with.
  • Then there was Duchess, my bonus mom, who was brilliant and one of the most loving and giving people I have ever met.  I learned a lot from her.

It is because of these women who are no longer with us, and the blessing of my mother who is still with me, that I am who I am.  I can’t say enough about my mom.  She is brilliant, courageous, spiritually gifted, wise, beautiful, accomplished, and a pioneer, even though she can’t see it, as the first Black woman to chair the botany department at the University of New Hampshire in the late 60s. I see these women in me every day in both small and big ways.  

The spirit of my grandmothers are always with me. I seek their counsel when I need answers to seemingly unanswerable questions or practical ones like how to make a good sweet potato pie.  I have handwritten recipes and love notes from these women.  I have pictures that remind me of who I am because of them.

Honoring Our Mothers 

Let’s take the time this month to remember the women in our lineage.  Learn about their lives, the good and the bad. Seek understanding about the context in which they lived and the choices they made.  Learn from their lives.  See yourself in their hearts and spirits.

Let’s take the time to introduce these women to our children – young and grown.  Let’s begin to talk about their lives so our children get to know who they are and where they come from. Let’s honor our grandmothers by doing more for others, and by making a way out of no way for the next generations and fulfilling their prayers for us.  When we remember who we are, we can no longer play small or helpless or foolish.  When we honor and remember them, we find our strength. We find our brilliance. We find our courage. We find ourselves.  Let’s remember and be the women and men that will be remembered by future generations with pride and honor.

Ashé

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