I miss my grandmother. I miss her on a level I didn’t realize until after she had already left the world. I needed more guidance. I need more from her. I needed the portion of her life she didn’t want to talk about in order to help me to avoid those things.
I needed her to be honest with me beyond being a grandmother and granddaughter. I needed her to be woman honest with me. As strong as my grandmother was, I needed her to be strong enough to be honest with me. I wanted her to be that magnolia tree I always thought she was: tough and tender.
Now, as a mother myself, I needed the reminder that I am not perfect. That I will mess up, and that’s okay.
That I will be okay.
In the age of Black Lives Matter, the resurgence of all things Black and excellent, we cannot devalue the voices of our elders. We cannot discount them. We cannot determine because they are aged, that they are out of touch. Or their opinions are no longer relevant.
However, this is not to say some eldership is not problematic. This is not to say that their aren’t eldership that are obtuse, mean and genuinely unhelpful. Some of these members of the older generation are (can be) bitter and just unhelpful–regretting how their lives are and want everybody around them to be the same. Even with them, there is still something to be learned! If nothing else, we can learn that your life is your own and you have to be accountable.
What I would want eldership to know is that we still need you! The younger generation still need you! We need the answers you have beyond how to make cornbread or sew a button. We need your thoughts, memories now made wisdom to be a guiding light! We need the deep things of your life in order to not make the same mistakes!
Granddaughters need the truth of how to hold a relationship and how to identify a no-good man.
Grandsons need their grandfathers to remind them that Black manhood is a thing of dignity. It is something to celebrate and there are things Black boys need beyond learning to change a tire or fishing.
I know some of this is generational. I know there are some of us, like myself, with no living grandparents. I know that some of us can’t talk to our grandparents because talking really isn’t something old Black folk do! Let’s be honest! However, that does not make the need for their wisdom any less needed!
Our eldership is valuable, and I want them to know this. I want them to know their lives matter; their memories are both maps and wisdom. They are light. And once those lights are dimmed to the point no one can see them, there is a loss unimaginable.
[images from Pinterest.com.au, azquotes.com]