Friday, September 11, 2015

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1474: Family is so powerful!

  Family is so powerful. It’s powerful in our conception. It’s powerful in our birth. It’s powerful in our life. It’s powerful in our death. Family is so powerful.

  I thought specifically about the power of family this week because I was asked by the pastor of Brown Chapel, Rev. Leodis Strong, to make remarks at the Faith + Family + Friends Day. He wanted me to share about my family experiences, and that translated in my mind to the power of family. Family is so powerful.

  I did not understand the power of family until I was well into adulthood. The sad thing is that I was not alone in this lack of understanding, for most of us don’t understand the power of family until we are grown. The saddest thing of all is too many of us never know the full power of family. Family is so powerful.

  Family conceives us. Family births us. Family nurtures us. Family struggles with us. Family lifts us. Family molds us. Family mourns us. Family buries us. Family stretches from our beginning to our end and beyond. Family is so powerful.

  The earliest story I recall about myself was shared by my mother. She said that when I was just a crawling baby, I would crawl to the edge of the porch, fall off, crawl back up the steps, crawl to the edge and fall off again and again. She tried to stop me, but I kept doing it over and over again. At some point, I finally ceased this crawling and falling. I don’t know the meaning of all this, but either I was just bull headed or slow to learn as a baby. It is interesting that my mother eventually allowed me to learn my own lesson. I allow my children to learn their own lessons. Family is so powerful.

  My mother and father took what they had and made what they needed. Neither complained about what they did not have. My father could fix anything with wire and a pair of pliers. My mother could serve inexpensive rice every day without us realizing it. One day it was rice with fat meat and grease, then red rice (rice with tomato paste); then mackerel and rice; then peas and rice (hopping john); then beans and rice; then eggs and rice; then neck bones and rice; and so on. They just took what they had and made what they needed. I believe all of their children have some of this characteristic. Family is so powerful.

  My family understood the power of having your own. We lived on 13 acres of a large track of heir property. We did not have a legal interest in the property because my grandfather was the heir and he was still alive. Some of the other heirs would harass my mother each morning and evening as she walked the mile and a half to and from work. She was strong in word and action. However, she had a house full of children so she refrained from telling them where they could go or what they could do. But she reached her limit.

  One year as the cotton picking season began, my mother told us that we could not use the cotton picking money we made that year to buy school clothing or school materials, or anything else. She said that she was going to take it and “buy me a piece of land.” When we got up to $50, she bought one acre in Freemanville about 20 miles away. When she went to and from work, our relatives did not harass her because we had our own. We never moved onto the one acre, but just owning that one acre empowered us, and depowered our harassing relatives. Nearly all of my parents’ eleven living children have their own. Family is so powerful.

  Things were always challenging for our family which eventually reached fifteen including thirteen (13) children and a father and a mother although one child died young. When things got really bad, my mother would sit in the only chair in our three-room house and make us sit on the floor in front of her. Then she would say something along these lines: “Children, things are always kind of bad with the big po (poor) family, but they are real bad now.” Then she would go quiet for a half-minute or so before saying, “But don’t y’all worry. I am at my best when things get bad.” It was so powerful. We learned how to be at our best when things get bad. I believe all of my parents’ children have some of this quality. Family is so powerful.

  When we children gather, we see our mother and father in each other. When we gather we see ourselves in each other. When we gather we understand that what we see was placed there by family, but it took the wisdom derived from age and experience for us to see it. Family is so powerful.

EPILOGUE – We take so much for granted. When it is there all the time, we lose sight of its power. Family is such a thing because it’s always there. It’s there from the beginning. It’s there every day until the end. We see the family trees. We rarely see the family forest because we are too close. Sometimes we fail to realize that family is powerful.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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