“I sustain myself with the love of family” -Maya Angelou

As I walked with my grandfather in his orchard after Easter lunch I had a sense of gratitude wash over me. I knew these were the kinds of moments that I simply had to enjoy. They do not come around that often. He walked me through his collection of fruit trees and I drank a glass of sweet tea.

This moment was layered with so many Southern clichés. It was perfect. I embraced this moment as long as I could.

We then returned to his yard. I commented that his lilac bush was growing well and the smell was amazing. The heavy lilac aroma had wafted its way over to us. He recounted a memory from his childhood where he would get off the school bus in the afternoons and his mother’s lilac bush could be smelled as soon as he entered the yard.

My grandparent’s home is not far from the area where my grandfather’s childhood home stood. They live on our family’s farm. Its been in the family for over a hundred years.

He pointed out where he would get off the bus and in that moment it was as if I could imagine my eight year old Dee getting off the bus and smelling the aroma of the lilacs.

Another perfect moment.

I have been blessed enough to have had experiences like this my entire life. My grandparents have made sure that my past family members were remembered. I can recount and am familiar with my family’s history going back five  generations. I will admit some of that is a bit muddled. However, not many people can say they are familiar with their family’s history like that. I won’t have to ask questions when I am older about who my family was. I have forged my identity with that knowledge my entire life. I know who I am and where I come from.  I have my Grandparents to thank for that.

Unfortunately, I never met my grandfather’s parents. They passed away before I was born. Although, I have heard more than enough stories and seen enough pictures of my great grandfather to know that my stature and attitude is much like his was. Its strange to feel a connection with a person you have never met before. Its just a testament to how well my family values the importance of understand family.

I have one set of living great grandparents who have been married for sixty eight years. I cannot even imagine that. For some folks that is a literal life time. Recently, I had Sunday lunch with them and they shared a few experiences from their past. It truly is invaluable to have that kind of experience. There generation helped build this nation to its status of exceptional. Its quite a treat to hear in what ways they added to that process. My great grandfather is a WWII veteran and worked for many years to support his family. While my great grandmother worked outside the home and also raised four children. Those are the wonderful people God has blessed me with in my life.

My maternal great grandparents were just as remarkable. Unfortunately, I did not spend as much time around them. They lived states away. However, I had a great grandmother that went to college and became a nurse. She did this during a time when education for women was seen as arbitrary. Women went to college and then came home to raise a family. Again, she did both. I had a great grandfather who was musically talented. He would only have to hear a song once and could play it.

My last set of great grandparents were ones I never got to fully meet. My great grandfather passed away when my grandfather was very young. My great grandmother was an independent strong minded woman. She was sweet and tenacious. An example of one who loved and demonstrated that love.

As this Easter Sunday comes to a close, those are the things I have reflected on. I was reminded again for life’s blessings. I am often mindful of the my family tree and how each branch is purposefully formed. We control what our tree looks like. It is our responsibility to water it and see to it that it blooms in a way that demonstrates love. My family has done a tremendous job in sharing that love. The Lord entrusts us with the responsibility to provide shade for many generations.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” -Nelson Henderson

That in itself is humbling.


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