Sunrise: June 22, 1914, Summerfield, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana Sunset: July 12, 2022, Oakland, Alameda County, California
My Spirit is so pleased to have witnessed the sojourn of a powerful Spiritual Warrior and that is my paternal Grandmother Georgia Brown.
I am so grateful that in this Season of my life, I’d be initiated by Spiritual prowess harkening the days of what is often remarked as “old time religion” bearing marks of Ancestral wisdom carried by such a keen Soul, brash and with might. Never could one come for Mama, Georgia’s praise as she’d reverence it to God. I love the very rasp of her voice, the jokes, reflections, and tarry, the scriptural assignments, and deep prayers. Her favor upon my head nestles in the crown of my head as a jewel.
“You say you wanna know about History, well here I am” ~Mama Georgia
OH MY LORD, you are missed, yet REMEMBERED Mama Georgia in my heart all the days long. So glad for your glorious return Home…
My Grandmother’s departure is a tour de force whose heavenly assignment upon this planet was carried out well. Well Done Queen Mother.
How a small Northern Louisiana town, called Summerfield, Louisiana could hold generations of my life to date? Becoming a Field research Genealogist would most certainly reveal to me the enormity of this discovery. I posted a lead post earlier on my #Genealogy Instagram platform @ReginaCalifa360, about the wisdom shared by my maternal Grandfather, CLAUDE WATERS, JR. :
“…take care of your own backyard.”
The WALSTON Family Reunion was conceived upon a foundation of woven memory and Family History research encompassing oral narratives about our Family Patriarchs MILES and MISSOURI WALSTON of Summerfield, Louisiana.
This year’s Family Reunion held in in the Bay Area, California was a tremendous success supported by a core of Wisdom Keepers, Family Elder Advisory and a fantastic Committee of dedicated members, lead by the visionary excellence of our Co-Chairs Cousins Kelly Bailey and Jayde Williams both of WILLIE WALSTON lineage. Our Family History Pioneers ARTHUR WALSTON and ADA MEADORS represent the living blueprint for which has become the Family History story we know today.
And taking cue, since the late 1800’s, Family members have transcended this story from generation to generation through their daughter VERA WALSTON unto its kinship legacy of the HILDRETHS, the LIVINGSTONS, VANHOOKS and so on. As it would become a joint commissioned effort of my Cousin Deborah through the Pioneering lineage of her Grandparents, so would it invoke my life’s quest ushered by my Grandfather’s wishes, who was SALLIE WALSTON’s Great Grandson. And this year the both of us served on the WALSTON Reunion Committee to advance the work, expanding the Reunion’s Genealogy and Family History component.
DOUBLE COUSINS ACTIVATE!!!
Deborah and I are also double cousins, not only verified in our own respective Family History research, but recently discovered through DNA as she matches Family members on both my Mother and Father’s side. We just “GET” each other and indeed it is a dynamic Spiritual exchange of kinship that we bear. Our dynamic research exchanges boasts energy of revelations that connect Family relations. Often we laugh and marvel at our discoveries. I truly value the inspirational inheritance of our relationship.
So when a clan of folks, recently came to visit my Father’s Mother, boasting 106 years on this planet earth, TRUST it was a day I had to be present. Mama Georgia is lively, brass and brash with Spirit whose calling never fails to share A Word, with the Bible nearby her elbow seen or unseen. In this visit were my Grandmother’s nephews and nieces who were KENNEDYs, and included a surprise visit by my Great Uncle Bobby HUNTER who only recently retired from driving Big rig trucks well into his 80’s; My Hunters are about some God-given vitality, and quick to deliver A WORD or wield “A CUT” so take the warning first. LOL *smh*. >>Although I had met Cousin Bo at Mama Georgia’s Birthday party, prior to this visit, his Brother Charles had connected with me online, inciting a cataclysmic exchange of Summerfield, Louisiana connections — My people! I learned sooo much about our intersections and connections, I was too full.
I LOOOVED the inertia of Summerfield Family energy, as we all “kinned up”, broke bread, laughed, faced-time other Family members marveling at our common ways, connections and celebrated just how GREAT GOD IS through Family.
Finally, I had a captivated audience to submit the claim that my maternal Grandfather and Father were distant Cousins, Elders were NOT surprised to learn of this once information. And as I shared my discovery, each Family clan knew of each other with some living only blocks away even to this day. Others could identify whether Family clans lived in the Mt. Sinai or Mt. Olive areas; I had also researched on FIND-A-GRAVE.com that some of my Father’s Maternal side, HUNTERS were also buried at the Old Mt. Sinai Cemetery along with WALSTONS. There are Cousin who’ve shared that there are some CALLOWAYs who are buried at Mt. Sinai and that there was a Pastor related to me that preached at a local church. *whew*
There are even more irons in the fire right now, added to an already HOT research docket. I’m grateful for the reunions, and will add, don’t wait until a Family Reunion to gather or meet up. Start with the Family around you, those you can still access , travel to or make a phone call. Welcome inside your Family gathering this season, to truly learn about your Family History lineage. Move beyond obvious questions concerning geographical and chronological dates and begin to ask Elders what was it like to grow up. Ask about foods, music, past times they enjoyed; What animals did they raise or know about, names of neighbors or what was the most historical event they could remember during their time. This will encourage the story that truly matters, en-souled with lessons that can impact your life today.
WHEN IS YOUR NEXT FAMILY MEET UP?!
It’s been my personal goal for decades to visit the old Mt Sinai area and nearby landmarks of the times that have shape the very lives of both sides of my Family. The stories of my Ancestors continue to prosper my own pathways and Family History. I encourage you to gain the wisdom you’ve inherited, and be guided HOW, to take care of your own backyard. Know your Family History.
2019 Note: With gratitude forward, these, reflections STILL speak Today, the 10th Anniversary Ancestral remembrance of my Father. And the abundance of Family has grown tremendously with Family History Research: Harris, Buggs, Robinson, Welch, Kennedy, Lynch, Hunter, Walston, VanHooks, Bennett, L(i)evingston & Howard. I also share an amendment to my Tree confirming my 3X Great Grandparents as Jesse Calloway & Celia Calloway of Alabama, cited on the death certificate of their son my GG-GFA-George Calloway. #workingmylines is a fantastic journey of healing.I invite you to read on and #givepraisetolife.
Oct. 8, 2013, California — This walk of my life strongly reflects an aspect parallel to my Father’s journey, post fatherhood. Before I knew him as my Father, I learned that he was born in Summerfield, LA, the youngest of 4, migrated to California at a young age with his Mother and Father, who later separated. In high school, he met my Mother on rebound and patiently courted, charming her into dating and eventually on “their 1st time” — then there was me. I learned that my birth was filled with the trials of a young Mother, classically partnered with a man facing the daunting responsibility of Fatherhood, both determined to “do the right thing.” And thus, the two were married 2 months before my birth. They loved, learned, struggled, and endured trials and triumphs to the tumultuous. Both were Louisiana reared in a traditional custom of staunch Family support by Grands and Greats to Uncles and Aunties. My childhood was school everyday to church all Sunday; planting peas, making preserves to sewing and starching a shirt; running track to running the household chores; Friday fish fry to Family Reunions; from Black Power to Vietnam; cake walks, frog legs and “roaches” the kind that walked and the kind that made you “talk funny”. My parents eventually divorced when I was 5 years old. –Bless them
At 5, with broom and belt in tow, I became instant lil’ mama, as I begin sweeping the house warning my brothers to behave — accepting a high sense of responsibility becoming independent and self-sufficient by default. Often times my Father would resurface in my life phantom-like to instill the “fear of God” in me, and remind me to never forget to take care of my younger brothers. While my maternal Grandparents were like my second parents on loan, my paternal Grandmother was a brash, wig wearing’, God-fearing’, church-going, haughty high-cheeked Lady who did not take to repeating herself. She still lives where I grew up and had remarried a good-natured man named Brown, he transitioned some years back.
Although well-versed in Family History on my maternal side, I’d always wonder where my paternal grandparents came from and what was their story. Although my Grandmother and Brown were very good to us, she was very protective about talking about the past and didn’t speak too favorably of my biological grandfather. It wasn’t until after a severe stroke that, my Father’s “road home” revealed a potential loss to gain access about this side of my Family history. However, at that time, my priority was to make certain his transition would be in the best care, knowing that he was well loved. These preparations availed him the most fortunate moment before his passing — a reunion to make peace with the only Family he created. After 30 years, we’d convene by his bedside: my Mother, his only wife and his 3 adult children.
On October 8, 2009, about 4-something in the morning, my Father took leave in peace and in sweet ease, with his children lightly sleeping at his bedside. We spearheaded his Home-going ceremony, which was attended by both sides of his Family, friends, Homelessness advocates and scores of cousins. The most profound presence at the ceremony, was his grieving mother who was compelled to sing an impromptu hymn to a now captivated audience. Her haunting message in the midst of the song – “… the bell has rung children, playtime is over! Time to come on in.” I was pleased to receive a letter from my paternal Uncle’s church in Houston, as his Sister the Evangelist delivered “The Word”. One of the most heartfelt moments at the Home-going was a down-to-earth letter submitted by an older cousin read aloud by my younger Brother, before the church; It revealed a rare glimpse as to what Our Father really thought of us — in some cases unbeknownst to us.
Of Heart and Home: In 2009, I also took leave, feeling somewhat displaced and needed to truly grieve as one of my cosmological poles had now fallen. During this period, in some ways like my Father, I submitted myself to a vulnerable path, accepting a vow of benevolence, and wanted to increase my action of faith, determined to shake the sediment of emotional transgressions inherited by Family ties. With faith forward, I needed to strip and re-visit the depths of me and as a result my landscape changed swiftly…including home. In the beginning, I found the most comfort in a friend’s car, couches, palettes, or sometimes a prepared room honoring my path. Along the way, I cleansed, listened and mirrored testimonies a many, from West Oakland to Harlem, New Orleans and back. Often reflecting and wondering if the works “took” – wondering, “ How is Daddy? or “Is he close? ” or sometimes thinking, “…maybe I don’t want to know.”
Picking back up “the lines” of my Family History from past research, I began honing my skills participating in a workshop in Harlem at the Schomberg Research for Research in Black Culture and the New York Public Main Library, conducted by the local Black Genealogy chapter Jean Sampson Scott AAGHS-NY chapter. Upon first investigative attempt, not only did I come across a record of my Maternal great grandmother for the first time, later upon Ancestry.comcensus records, I’d quickly unravel at least 4 generations of patriarchal Calloways, whom I never met nor heard of except for my grandfather when I was two — I was completely stunned. Ever so critical, the code had been cracked. Since then, I have discovered scores of Calloways, centenarians even and enjoy a close relationship with my Father’s brother, my Uncle James.
On this 4th Anniversary in observation and reverence of my Father’s transition, I infused the sparkling highlights of the ocean’s waves — I listen, petition and speak, marveling at the enormity of its breadth and depth where Souls dwell, pacts are made and Mami washes woes away in exchange for well wishes — T’ache’o. I smile, because even at 5 years old, I knew my Father had to go and I mentally held space for him. It’d be 4 years later after his death, that I’d recognize that my culminating trek today, somewhat remarked an aspect of my Father’s path (metaphorically speaking) who once said to me, “…you know I just had to drop out of the system and deal with myself.”
I’d find out later that he was a “mover and shaker” of the Coalition on Homelessnessadvocating for housing, shelter, Street Sheet program and affordable SRO’s for people in need, and so much more. I remember 2 months before his final departure, he’d painstakingly share how he’d watch our evolution, the shame of not being present, his pride and regretting the time wasted to make it right. As I witnessed this narrow opening of painful truth, he shared that we had made it upon our own merits and felt he could not take any credit for that, except that we were Calloways. He had always been proud that his offspring would be the crowning glory of his legacy on earth.
[smile] This re-tell for me used to be heart-wrenching to share. However, learning that the heart is a working vessel, I’d strive to become stronger in love, light and of sweet ascension – today regaining a stronger sense of home, with his Ancestral presence ever so strong, in truth testament. ~Thank you Daddy, Love, Gina…