Lessons Learned From One Of My Favorite Ladies
It’s Women’s Month, right? I unapologetically think that having a month to do something that should be done every day is a shame, and shame on you if you don’t. However, since this is when society tells us to celebrate women, then I will give you one to celebrate. Her name? Annie Odessa Maclin-Taylor.
My GG was one of my favorite ladies. I don’t talk about her much, because it breaks my heart that she is gone. 12.10.08. was the date that she took her last, and to be honest with you, 10 years later, it has not gotten any easier. However, I try my best to remember the things that she did when she was on this earth, and those are things that help my grieving process. When she was here, she taught me things that I didn’t realize that I would need until later in life. Being an idiot teenager, I would brush many of the talks that we had off, not truly realizing that she would ever leave. Death is a funny thing. It puts into perspective all of the interactions that you have with a person, and then displays them as mural to remember the life by. That’s what my GG did for me. She was a living legacy. She passed down a number of things to me, and I would like to share them with you. In true blogger form, here is the list:
1. Love God for real. My GG was a God fearing woman. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind about that. With her faith, there was an intentionality about it, and it was magnetic. I can’t begin to count the number of people who came forward after she passed to speak on how they found Christ because of her. My GGs house is in the hood of Portsmouth, VA. Up until recently, her house was a rock throw from a dope house, and liquor store (yea for gentrification). These are places I was never allowed to go by myself, but places I recognized as I got older. In spite of what was around her, she would open her house up to people, feeding them, and telling them the gospel. She wasn’t preachy, she was real; she understood them, and found connections with their lives and hers. It was wonderful to realize. She would keep these bible tracks EVERYWHERE in her house. Some of these tracks were wordy, some looked like comic books, and others still were like cartoons. However she needed to reach people, she would use them. She loved music, and would be singing all the time. These old hymns, rich in doctrine, were her songs of choice. Even I still don’t realize the songs that I know, and when I hear them I know every word. That was her. Her faith inspired generations after her to follow Jesus.
2. Educate yourself. Growing up, I hated school. Maybe it was because I was a loner black kid surrounded by white students who would pick on me. Maybe it was because it came easily to me, and didn’t feel challenged. Whatever the reason, I hated it. I just did. My GG was not one to have that. Whenever I was around her, I felt like I was in a classroom. She would ask me random questions about science and math, just to see if I knew it. When I was wrong, she would show me. One of the last conversations I remember having with her was about school. I was in college, and I wasn’t doing well. I was apathetic. I had a rough semester, and it discouraged me. She had asked me how I was doing in school, and I said I was doing ok. She challenged me to finish well. There were times after she passed when I would think back to those conversations, and I would press on to do well. Multiple degrees later, I am doing just fine. If I ever feel discouraged, I remember her face, and her smile, and I realize that I am going to make it just fine.
3. Treat Others Right. My GG was the type of person who was always respectful of those around her. She was very dignified. A classy lady. She instilled in all of us the same respect. In her house, no one would fight, or raise their voice. We treated each other with decency and respect. It was understood. I always think back to some of the stuff I was in when I was younger, and none of it ever came inside those doors. There was a respect and honor that my GG demanded that no one would dare defy. It was just how life was. I only saw my GG raise her voice at someone once in my life, and she was doped up in the hospital when it happened. Even that scenario seemed so weird to think about knowing her character. But respect was something given to everyone, even if they didn’t deserve it. We live in a culture where respect is earned, not given. Her thought was if you treat others with respect, you will get it back in return. She taught us that.
I could go on with the numerous other things that she taught me, but I will end it here. My eyes are welling up with tears, and so I really don’t have the strength to continue writing. She is the example to anyone of what a woman should be, and I love her dearly. Many people will say things like “I know that they are looking down on me”, but I don’t believe that. She is somewhere in the presence of Jesus, singing and praising him. I’m ok with that because I will get to see her again one day, and sing right along.
I love you, GG.