I am almost through reading Deval Patrick’s book, A Reason To Believe. I wrote about it a couple of posts ago.
I am amazed at the numerous connections that the Massachusetts Governor and I share, growing up poor and yet not really wanting for much. While I never “lived” in Chicago like him, I have very strong Chicago roots from spending summers there with my Mother. I too am an ABC student and a graduate of a private boarding school, Western Reserve Academy, where I boarded for 4 years. In addition, I am also a graduate of an Ivy League college and a lawyer.
While the numerous commonalities are eerily similar, there are 2 that are so serendipitous that it is almost surreal. My Grandmother largely raised me and my younger brother and we called her “Gram,” the name that Deval Patrick and his sister called their grandmother. They lived with their “Gram” during their childhood as we did our “Gram.” Second, there is his narrative of the day that his father left. Like me, he was 4 years old. Like me, he chased after his father as he walked out of the apartment. Like me, this all happened on the south side of Chicago.
My father didn’t slap me literally as Deval’s father did him. However, he figuratively slapped me hollering at me and asking repeatedly “are you coming or are you staying here?” I was 4 and as he walked down the walkway to his car; I cried and screamed in the front window, begging him not to leave my mother and I.
As I am finishing Patrick’s book, the extraordinary image of his Gram’s stability in his life, is my own story. My Gram was a tremendous lady, undaunted by the racism and segregation that she witnessed during her life time. She was a housekeeper for well-to-do European-American families, patiently making a life for herself and us in the north, meager wages and all. We caught the bus to Sunday school in the dead of winter and rarely missed church. Her demeanor was quiet, dignified, and proud.
I am not the success of Governor Patrick by so many measures. However, I know for me and suspect for him that one of the keys in our respective lives is that these dignified and wise women were our anchors, at the center of whatever success we enjoy.
I just want to say thank you to our Grams! Ladies born at the turn of the century, determined to make a life for themselves, and even more determined to make a life for us.
If your Big Ma, Nana, Granny, or even Gram is still with you today, hug her, and thank her for all that she has done in and for your life! If she has gone on, pause and say a prayer of thanks as I do regularly. My guess is that the Governor does too!
Read, learn, and share…………Have a Family Meeting!