My Grandfather's Legacy
On July 2, 2017, my last living grandparent Elmore Bell, Sr. passed away at the age of 94. Born in 1923 his eyes were filled with wisdom. During his later years as his voice began to dim the wisdom of his words increased in value. At his funeral, my cousin and I had a conversation detailing what being a man in our family meant and what it will mean moving forward. During our conversation, the weight of his legacy rested on my shoulders. He made sure we know who we are, where we come from, and where we are expected to go. We also know the road ahead won't be easy but the expectation is for us to get to the destination regardless.
My grandfather set the standard for men in our lineage high. He was married to the same woman for 52 years, managed to put all his children through college, and lived long enough to see 10 of his great-grandchildren! The family was a priority for him. He left his hometown and decided to settle in Jacksonville, FL. Once he settled a few of his brothers decided to follow suit. They made Jacksonville their home carving out space to work and create a life for themselves. He also believed in community. Over the many decades he lived he not only invested in his family he invested in his community as a whole whether is was through a warm meal, word of encouragement, or a helping hand. My grandfather managed to stretch the boundaries of the family to include more than relatives.
In my opinion, one of the most valuable things he left me is the path he blazed. I believe it's the duty of his dependents to carry the family legacy forward. I've met so many people (men and women) who don't know who they are and as a result, they allow others to define them and place false value on them as well. I know because at one point in my life I had no clue who I was. As a result, my decision-making process could be categorized as reckless. I didn't consider the repercussions on life much less on the family name and my community as a whole. Once I began to gradually understand who I was and the expectations of my life I began to think differently which ultimately led to a different set of actions.
In conclusion, I'll say his passing left me with a huge sense of responsibility. I know the stock that I come from, and I am fully aware of what it will mean moving forward. It means I'm expected to lay any excuse that may enter my mind to the side and continue to make progress towards my goal. It means I must meet the needs of my family spiritually, financially and emotionally. I'm also reminded of the importance of men, in general, being trailblazers and standing for something.