Rising Above

I’ve always loved this Winged Heart message written by cardie Rosemary Tolliver, and I’m smiling at the thought that, if my mother were alive today, she’d be ordering dozens to send far and wide.

Saturday would be Mom’s 94th birthday and, watching the news last night, I couldn’t help thinking how much she’d have to say. And that made me think of something she once shared with me … I’d asked her how she thought she’d become so open — actively seeking out friends of various faiths, cultures, and backgrounds as she did — when she herself had grown up so sheltered. She was an only child raised by a maiden aunt surrounded by the corn fields of central Illinois.

“I’m sure it was because of Aunt Anna,” she said. “I learned to see the world through her eyes. I remember being around eight, returning home from our one-room schoolhouse up the road. Because Aunt Anna was such a voracious reader — all our days and nights were spent reading everything we could — I was sure she’d be really excited about the new word I’d learned on the playground that day. ‘It’s n****r,’ I’d proudly proclaimed, then watched her calmly rise as she explained, ‘Honey, that is not a good word. It is a word no one should use. Please come with me.’ She led me to one of her floor-to-ceiling shelves and pulled out a book that was big and thick and titled Heroes of the Dark Continent. Then she led me to my favorite reading chair and proposed that I ‘read this cover-to-cover so you will know the proud heritage of the African-American in our society.’”

I’m not sure which is more striking to me now, that that conversation took place 86 years ago, or that it’s so necessary to have again today. I do know that I am very grateful to the tiny enlightened Scottish woman who so gracefully guided my mother, and I hope her sense of truth and justice soon finds us all.

~ jodee stevens
cardthartic founder

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