A Pull Toward the Ancestors

The drizzle fell most of the day. It consumed any hope of seeing the sun in the morning when the sky had that darkness that makes you wonder if you’d mistakenly woken too early. Despite the drizzle, interspersed with short, steady downpours I felt a strong pull to the cemetery in Versailles yesterday. As I made my left turn into the cemetery and entered through the iron gate, I could see the large stone that reads Gooch, my grandmother’s people. It amazes me we had such difficulty finding it when we visited in May. I slowly pulled around the drive as the workers were leaving for the day. I pulled out my Bible and walked slowly to the graves of Grandma and Grandaddy.

I stood there. “I’m here Grandma.” The emotion flowed from my eyes. “I’m here Grandaddy.” I thought and felt how proud my grandmother was of her Alley Bird, a pet name for Dad. I thought and felt–felt–her pride in me as I embark on my seminary education. I felt my Grandaddy’s quiet pride. I thought about Malidoma Patrice Some and his contention that the ancestors are real and still exist. That they are like spectators or the coach in a stadium, with us as the players while the ancestors cheer our every success, and nudge us, whisper in our ears, and hope we will go in the right direction. So, I spoke to my ancestors, to my grandparents and to my great-grandparents buried beside the huge Gooch stone I saw as I came into the cemetery. (I thought about how little I know about them.) I prayed. I read my Bible. I smelled the wet earth surround me.

I stayed until our visit was done and this time instead of telling Grandma, “I’m not sure when we’ll get back to Kentucky.” I told her, “I’ll see you next week.”

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