This topic speaks so sweetly to my spirit and holds a special place in my heart not just because it is about my family, specifically my grandmother, Rosa Mayfield, but because it is about a generation of people who influenced my life in ways that are indescribable. I was blessed to know all of my grandmothers’ siblings and to have close, personal relationships with them as well as know two of my great-grandmothers’ sisters (all her other siblings had passed before I could know them) and have relationships with them as well. I have wonderful stories told to me by these amazing people of growing up in Berrytown, Worthington and Crestwood. I have stories of my Grandmother Rosa and her sister Lucy and their baby dolls, Sadie and Suzie, and how they would play with them and fight over them as young girls. My Uncle Ed (Miss Mariam’s grandfather) was one of the best men I ever knew. He always made me laugh and had a smile for me every time I saw him. He made certain that every Christmas, along with Cousin Richard Watson, the children of Taylortown had the best treats that could be imagined. We had candy, fruit, nuts and cookies. We had gifts and other fun things–my Uncle Ed was on it!!! My Mom and I often reminisce about him and how much we miss him.
Back in the day when I was young I lived in the house with three other generations. My great-grandmother, Mamie, my Grandmother Rosa, and my mother, Brenda. My life was forever influenced by these beautiful, strong women. I remember when my great-grandmother Mamie was living, all her children would come to our house for EVERY holiday. It was fine in the warmer months but nerve-wracking in the winter months. With her children came their children and their children and their children’s children and so on; there were so many people indoors during the winter holidays you could rarely move. There was always good food, good conversation and lots of laughter. Family…that’s what we were and we were blessed in every way.
I am saddened that most people will not experience these traditions. I have a sister who is 23 who does not know of any of this because we were doing things differently when she came along. There were still family dinners but not like the ones of old. Tradition is important. There was a time in my life when I didn’t care much for it and wanted to rid myself of it. When I read the account of the poster who mentioned an elder who commented how they wished a the children would ask them about their lives, my grandmother never waited for us to ask her about her life, she offered the information. She would begin telling stories at random or there would be something that would spark a memory for her and she would begin to tell stories. The aforementioned elder may not have felt comfortable telling information unsolicited or maybe they longed for the attention of someone asking them questions, specifically…I don’t know.
What I do know is we are in a time when grandmothers are 30 and mothers are 14; there isn’t a lot of lifetime between generations. Sure, things change generation to generation but the people of a certain era are leaving us. A people that had a certain pride are leaving us. A people that lived by certain morals and values are leaving us. The loving and caring grandparent that would take you by the wayside and teach you life’s lessons for the most part is gone. The grandparent that taught you that you have exactly what you need and too much more is just plain “wasteful.” The grandparent that could use “old-world” ways to make concoctions that would either heal your illness or lift your “spirits” (drink anyone?).
Let’s face it, you can want to tell all the stories you wish but if the youth don’t feel it’s important then they won’t listen. Are our youth seeing their family members living into their 80s and 90s? Are they close to them? When my grandmother died my cousins who moved out of state came back to KY, from all over the country. They did so because she was instrumental in their lives. She was a grandmother to some and like a grandmother to others. After the funeral, many of us shared our personal stories of our time with her and what she meant to each of us.
Mariam: she loved you very much because you are you but also because you are her brother’s grandchild. Life was good to her in many ways and unfair and cruel in others but when you asked her how she felt about her life she would say with certainty…BLESSED!
Blessed to be the Granddaughter of one of the greatest,
Stephanie R. Mayfield-Jones