Together We Stand

Believing in My Purpose
Mom, Dad and Me
Yesterday would have been my mother's 88th birthday. She left this world in 2004. All day yesterday I tried to find a quiet moment with her because I didn’t want to share her with anyone. Part of that has to do with the fact that I am her oldest child. Her last moments on earth were with me and I miss her every day. Yesterday I felt I had to finish things for and with others before I could find that quiet moment.

So, I didn’t get that moment I wanted on yesterday, falling asleep early and last night she came into my dreams. I love you, Mom. Waking moments were fused with many good things yesterday, but my Mother was good at patience.

In my dreams she had been asleep and had just come into my  living room. Awaking as she did, always cheery, wanting some oatmeal (although she didn’t in this dream), my Mom always made mornings better for me. Even not being a morning person myself, she managed to energize me without coffee. I think it was because she loved me and I felt it. There wasn’t much more to that in the dream as it was within the remnants of my waking in real time. Still, I got up immediately, refreshed and ready to write.

I am my mother’s daughter, as I am my father’s, too. I know I have gifts from both of them. I have my mother’s compassion and empathy, my father’s gift of teaching. The last 10 years have been the honing of those gifts more fully to do the work I do—that I’m called to do.

I didn’t get my mother’s gift of healing or my father’s skills of logic. I can comfort, but my mother’s gift of healing and taking away pain is not mine. My father was a wiz at knowing the way. He was a master builder. I don’t always see the way to doing and getting what I need—I struggle with step by step planning, seeing the bigger picture, but not always the steps to getting there.  What does all of this say to me?

My parents gave me the right gifts or rather the gifts I received from them are the right ones. What they taught me is that no one does this work alone. However, you don’t just learn from what our parents did right. We must learn from the challenges they struggled with and mistakes they made as well.

They didn’t stay married, but in the end they are together. They came together, I believe, because even though their stories were vastly different, they completed each other. Both grew up poor (my mother had days of abject poverty while my father didn't) but my mother was the first (and only girl) to finish high school in her family. She was almost 20 before she got her high school diploma. That is true perseverance.

My father, while poor by standards of the time, was the only son of a farmer and minister. He was able to finish school. He went into the armed services and was then able to finish college. While a black man living in America, he still had the support of a patriarchal society in that community. His own sister, who wanted to learn (and Aunt Luella was smart as a whip), was denied that because of her sex.

He was an educated man. That education brought him to a school where he became my mother’s teacher. Then he became her lover and later her husband. And here I am (not necessarily in that order). My father’s influence on my mother helped her to finish high school. It prepared her for accepting the gift of Dr. Perry Priest (for whom I’m named) to go to and finish nursing school.

My mother and father believed in education, especially of and for their children. We’ve all achieved learning in one way or another and we’re the smartest 5 individuals I know. But as the eldest child of Savantha and Henry McCary, I see that what I’ve become is an empathetic and compassionate teacher. What I teach is what I’ve gotten from my parents—life skills—as well as what I know best (creative communication skills). The rest …

Well, it comes from those of you I am willing to partner and collaborate with. I cannot do it all. We’re at the precipice of real change and it is going to take the willing and the strong. None of us can do it alone. Today, in the present, we must figure out how we’re going to work together. And, remember earlier I talked about the challenges and mistakes of my parents. They live inside of me, too. I must continue the lessons taught by them while alive, living in me now that they are gone. I will be the best that I can be and work with those whose gifts can be celebrated in making this a better world.

So, as they stand behind me, lifting me up in dreams and memories, I say Thank you, Mom and Dad. Oh, and a belated birthday wish, Mom. I didn’t get around to it yesterday, but I was doing the work I learned from you both. You did a good job.



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