Yesterday as our family gathered to eulogize the last remaining sibling of my mother, it was a hot, sunny emotional day of melancholy, tears and some stark epiphanies in Beaufort, South Carolina. For many of us it made us reflect on the value of our purpose and existence through every breath we take each day. A few weeks ago, when I wrote the blogpost “Funerals: The New Family Reunion” after the burial of one of my first cousins, I once again experienced another “Oops Upside Your Head” (The Gap Band) moment that clearly laid out what was really happening on this day. A great era on my maternal side of the family came to an end.
My aunt, Susanna Pollins Glaze, transitioned at the age of 93, and was the longest living sibling of 14 children. What’s more inspiring and astonishing is the fact that she was married to my uncle Walter for 75 years! Seventy-five years! That’s the kind of love that truly lasts through the test of time. Aunt Susie and Uncle Walter really raised the bar for all of us. Their house was the unofficial anchor for our family, friends and acquaintances. You went there for food, laughs, food, serious talk, food, food and more food! I’m sure many of you can relate.
Now my mother could throw down cooking, but my Aunt Susie “put her foot in it” as we would say. There was always more than enough to eat and no matter who walked through the doors of her and Uncle Walter’s house, they wouldn’t leave on an empty stomach, and would leave feeling uplifted and happy. There is so much more I can say about her, but that would probably take months of writing my personal memories about how much she meant to all of us. Additionally, she was the surrogate matriarch for all of us who lost our mothers throughout former years.
As I sat in the church, listening to the eulogy and remarks made about the impact she made on so many, many lives…even beyond her family, flashbacks of my mother, her sisters and brothers who have long since passed away, reminds me that I too am standing on the shoulders of a strong legacy. I have a responsibility along with the rest of my cousins to strengthen our era, just as our parents strengthened theirs for us.
So amid the tears, there is a breath of freshness I inhale to allow my sadness to turn into unspeakable joy. Through that joy, I must ask myself, am I doing all that God put me here to do in order to make at least a fraction of the impact this woman I call Aunt Susie, and all of my other aunts and uncles made during their lifetime? That’s a question I ask God every single day, so that I can be wiser and do better.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (KJV)
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Do you reflect on life and recognize when it’s your turn to run and shine, as the baton from one generation is passed on to you? One era ends, but that’s just the beginning of the next one.