Monday, January 29, 2024

The Last One

 Something changes in you, in your generation, when you realize that the last of your familial elders has made her transition from this Earth.

That was the feeling I had when I received the news a week ago that she passed away.

When are we ever ready to suddenly be the grown-ups in the room?

My first cousins and I all looked at each other like, wait, wait, we don't have any Aunts or Uncles anymore. The vacuum was felt, even as we believe our ancestors are a part of us and their memory remains, to suddenly be in the universe without the seven of the fourteen who were the backdrop of our lives, was shocking in ways we are still absorbing.

Everyone is spread out now, no longer centrally located in the town our parents migrated up north to, we are literally around the world. Some were able to make it in, others were able to tune in via the power of technology.

There is a silence that is so loud when you are sitting there.  

We do as African Americans do and talk about how she looked. The funeral home did a great job on her, she looked like the way we all remembered her. She wore her favorite color - blue - and just looked like she was sleeping. None of the signs of the Alzheimers were on her face.

After the services and internment in the new (past twenty years now) family cemetery, we went to a restaurant to eat. The elders weren't here for us to gather at one of the Aunt's houses who would always have pound cake and coffee. Hardly anyone lived in the area anymore, so we gathered around a table where no one had to cook.

And then we laughed. And hugged. And snapped photos. And remembered.

Then, we pulled out notebooks or like one of the younger generations, the smart phone, and looked at our ancestry and started unraveling mysteries our our grandfather with the one-drop of African American blood who gave most of us our height.

The thing we did the most was appreciate the family into which we were privileged to be born. We loved the many hues of us and the multiple generations. We were fruitful and multiplied. The lot of us fulfilled the dreams of the elders who chose other suns to find opportunity.

Generation after generation now, we stopped counting at five, have taken the baton and run with it, that is what we want and hope.

The last one is gone now and we carry on, holding memory and loving this space.

We are the elders now.

©2024. Antona Brent Smith, remembering I am a Brent even as I celebrate the Nomme de plume my father gave me. I am the daughter of one of the fourteen who were the most amazing people and am honored to have been able to celebrate the life of my Aunt Bea.

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